Editing and…Editing

Sewing Tip #742: When sitting on the floor cutting out a pattern, if you are listening to your iPod make sure the headphone cord is out of the way first.

Oops. Good thing they weren't my good headphones.

Now that my Stupid and Amusing Mistake of the Day is out of the way, on to letter E!

I love:  editing.

Many writers don’t like editing.  My least favorite thing to do is first drafts, even if I’m smoking hot and can’t type fast enough to keep pace with my brain.  It can be a wild ride, and even fun.

But no one writes a perfect first draft, and if they say they do they’re lying.   Editing is when the manuscript takes shape.  A good novel edit takes nearly as long as writing the book.

There are several steps to editing.  I’m going to tell you how I do it.  Another writer may have a completely different approach.  This is what works for me.

Sit on it for a while

I usually can only wait about a week before I get back to it.  But I have to step away, if only to clear my head of something that has dominated my thoughts for weeks or months.  Letting it rest means when I do look at it again, I can gain some distance.

Print it out

First draft edit is ALWAYS on paper.  I put it in a 3-ring binder.  It’s a broad edit, going through looking for loose ends, inconsistencies, etc.  They get marked with sticky flags and notated in the margins. These are corrected in the electronic version.

This is where big cuts start taking place also.  I usually save a copy of my first draft as a separate file, in case there is something in there I want to reuse at a later date.  I have a cut file for the same reason.

Pass it on

After three or four printed edits (yes, I recycle all my manuscripts at the local paper mill), I put it in the hands of a reader or two.  Choosing them is an art and a science in and of itself.   I want someone who will be kind, but also know when to point out clunkers, errors, typos and anything just plain stupid.

Several rounds later, I feel confident my manuscript is ready for submittal.  I spent a huge amount of time on Rose’s Hostage because I’ve been learning about standard industry formatting and other nitpicky things.  Now I can start a manuscript in that format and not worry about fixing it later.

Hopefully, it’s good enough to get some attention.   If not, it goes in the fabled writer’s trunk, until I’m as famous as Stephen King and can publish my grocery lists.  Ha!

The Master. Dear God, I want to meet this man. Kthxbai.


Press Photo
Credit: Amy Guip © 2006


I hate:  Editing.  When I give my work to someone after hours of polishing and they immediately see a mistake, then I have to start all over.  Gah!

Anne Mini always says before you ever consider sending in any work to anyone, print out your manuscript and read it ON PAPER, OUT LOUD.   It’s much easier to catch mistakes that way.

And it’s true.  My last edit of Rose’s Hostage was on computer and I gave a .pdf to Egon and he found two mistakes right off the bat.  D’oh!

Whether you’re a writer or a student who produces papers, if you have any editing tips feel free to share in the comments.  We all can use a fresh perspective.


2 thoughts on “Editing and…Editing

  1. Editing is a long, repetitive, sometimes joyful, more often tedious process. Like you, I have a love/hate relationship with editing, but it’s not something I’d ever attempt to cut corners on. It is what it is, and it takes the time it takes–and, boy, can you ever tell when someone has cut those corners!

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