The fast draft editing style. It is by no means unique. I went to a class at ACFW two years ago that taught certain aspects of what I'm going to mention here today. But this is how it has worked for me.
Edit in stages.
Edit in layers.
Edit in drafts.
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When you think about having to read through your 93k novel ten or twelve times, doing it the first time through just makes it seem like Mt Everest. Tell me about it, it's all I think about.
But you have to start somewhere. It's not an option. If you go into your edits thinking this is going to be the only pass you have to make, you'll be stuck within the first paragraph, trying to make it so perfect that all it does is stifle your creativity.
If all you think about is the multiply passes you have to do after this first one, you'll be so daunted you won't even want to start. The neat thing about the fast draft, is each time you go through you're going to catch more and more. You don't have to get it all on the first swipe. So enjoy it!
There are days I don't want to edit. But I sit down and do it anyway. This style benefits those days most of all, because I know I don't have to catch everything. I'm tightening. Fixing misspelled words. I'm looking for inconsistencies and adding deeper meaning to the story.
Second, third, fourth, fifth pass is all a different level of what I just described. Each time you go through your story you're going to see something different. You're going to find new ways of tightening dialogue and characterization. If you're taking classes and studying how-to books you're also going to be putting those skills into action with each new pass.
It's helpful on those days that you don't want to edit, to be able to realize, I AM accomplishing something today. Even if it feels like all you're doing is simply reading your work, don't take this phase of the edits for granted. Work hard, make those changes and move on.
If you find yourself stuck because you can't fix something the way you want it fixed right now, don't grab the nearest paper bag, force yourself to keep going. This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, but absolutely the most valuable. You can't be a perfectionist with your writing so don't hold yourself to those standards on the first couple of edit passes.
The current novel I'm editing is taking more rewrites then I planned. Instead of going through and rewriting everything in the first draft as I originally planned, I'm going through and fixing one or two things at a time. #1 priority for my hero? Adding more dialogue, so that's what I'm working on. Second priority? Figure out who these characters are all over again. I knew who they were when I started writing them, now I need to figure out who I want them to be.
Time to layer. Layering, at least for me, is not something I can consciously do. I have to let the story flow and mold it from there. Doesn't mean that it will all stay the same. What that does mean is I have a point of reference. You'll have more respect for yourself as a writer if you go into your novel with appreciation for what is already written, but a knowledge that you can make it better.
I hate editing.
There I said, sign me up for Edits Anonymous. But one thing I've learned: is I edit myself into a corner. Thinking I have to have this figured out before I can get published. Thinking everything has to be done in less then two or three passes. That's just not accurate and sets you for failure. You can fast draft edits fairly quickly. A couple weeks at the most, taking notes along the way for things you want to change on the next run through. Sometimes if I don't have the creative energy to write a new scene in the moment I feel it should be written, I take a note and go back on a day I want to create something new.
The neat thing about edits is that you get to see the story refine before your eyes. It evolves and molds. And that's a great thing.
What are the best edits suggestions you've heard that help you?
Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She lives in rural Eastern Oregon in a town more densely populated with cows than people.