|Is your manuscript being taken over by the weeds?|
Do you ever get overwhelmed with the editing process?
"Up the conflict."
"Read your dialogue over, doesn't sound realistic."
"Too many words; tighten the prose and keep the pace up."
"Need to ground us in the setting here."
These are a few of many, many comments I received through the writing process. Sometimes, these comments weren't even agreement.
Even more amusing, since I am part of a face-to-face critique group and we pass copies I have seen comments of direct disagreement.
"Kill this part."
"No, leave it in, it works."
So where do we start with the editing process?
Here's some advice from Alley pal, Casey:
I usually always start my editing process with one read through. Fixing things as I go, but then I have a better idea of the large picture to fix.
Great advice and some I am now following. Thanks, Casey!
Erin Healy advises us to pick one area at a time. Its so easy to get overwhelmed. This is the very advice I am following right now.
I'm zeroing in on the overall plot.
I like to read the ugly areas aloud to my husband. When I hear them aloud it makes me laugh, and then its easier to hit the delete button.
Reading everything aloud is so helpful with dialogue and just about every part of your story. It might be the single thing that has improved my writing the most.
Make a "pretties" file as you go along. I don't remember where I first heard this tip, but putting something in a "pretties" file is less depressing than hitting the delete button. Let's face it, you probably won't use most of it...but you never know. Purple prose? Overdrawn description? Paragraphs of setting? Put it in your file for later.
What overwhelms you the least at this point? Maybe grammar and mechanics is a good first tackle for you if you feel frustrated by some of the larger points of plot. Once you have tackled a set of edits, you may feel more comfortable to move in deeper and deeper.
A writer friend compares it to cleaning your house. After the toddler tornadoes come through, it looks like a disaster. But you tackle one thing at a time and before you know it you are working with a stronger manuscript. Wise words.
Check out Sarah Forgrave's wonderful self-editing checklist. If you missed it the first time around, this is a wonderful set of posts that breaks it down for even the most overwhelmed new author.
Don't be afraid of the delete button. I killed around 10K words this week. It was painful, but I know ultimately it will lead to a stronger manuscript.
What about you? Where do you start your edits? Do you feel overwhelmed when you start editing or have you found a system that works well for you?
Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys reading and reviewing books for The Title Trakk, a Christian review site.