Edit Slow

Edit slow, edit tough…heck, bleed all over it with a red pen. Last Monday, we discussed Write hard, write fast, this week we talk about the editing process. Some of us edit as we write, some of us edit when we are done writing the entire book.  But when it comes to full out editing, James Scott Bell encourages us to:

Edit slow, edit tough with a process both clear and cool.

A clear process, I can understand, but cool?

For my first draft, I fall into the write hard, write fast, but when it comes to editing, I slow way down. Editing a 80,000-120,000 word novel is a huge undertaking and Bell suggests to have some kind of process, a schedule, a checklist… Yikes, I hadn’t thought about creating a process of editing. I just did it. I cut what I didn’t like, worked on the flow, read books about editing, and then after a couple of rewrites, I joined a local critique group. That was amazing experience, but after a couple of years and two kids, I had to step away. Thankfully, I found another critique group online and I can’t wait to start submitting my current work in progress.

Back to editing… Bell goes into a lot more detail on revisions in his book, Revision & Self-Editing. He breaks the editing process down into categories, such as Character, Theme, Plot, Dialogue, Show vs Tell, etc… All with nice little checklists and questions to helps us think through each category. I’m thinking I might need to get this book. One of my favorite editing books is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. If you are looking for a good, all-around book on fiction writing, I love Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. Knowing what makes good fiction, we’ll know how better to create it.

So what are your favorite editing books? What’s your strength/weakness when it comes to editing?


4 thoughts on “Edit Slow

  1. C.L. Dyck says:

    Both of those books are on my list of regular recommends for clients. And, yep, I don’t know a pro editor who doesn’t have some kind of system for getting through from start to finish and top to bottom. It’s a major timesaver, especially when we charge by the word or page and not by the hour. Which many of my colleagues (and I) prefer, because it allows time to sit back and think. It’s true. For some things, a clock isn’t the best tool for getting the job done.

    My own process roughly follows Ingermanson’s concept of three levels or layers to the story. A big macro view including concept, theme, start-to-finish coherence and overall structure; a scene-by-scene view; and then the paragraph/sentence/proofreading stuff.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      That just hurts my brain trying to grasp it all, but I am striving toward that end, to learn what works for me and how to go about doing it in a method of some sort. I don’t know if I could read through a manuscript that had typos & overlook them in order to focus on the macro view of it. The novel is a huge thing to maneuver and I think having a system would be best, but what and how…I’m sure I will learn. :),

      • C.L. Dyck says:

        I usually snag punctuation/proofing errata as I’m reading for macro, so I don’t know how much the various steps are ever separate. Except that, if a scene strikes me as unnecessary to the story upon revisions, there’s no point copyediting it. 🙂

      • J. L. Mbewe says:

        That is a good point!

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