Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I could really relate to Angie's post about how an independent streak can throw up a misplaced sense of guilt - relying on others to achieve your goals can make you feel like a burden, sometimes even a cheat. But the truth is, I wouldn't be where I am now without the support of family and friends. Everyone needs a little help sometimes.

So here goes. I'm going to start editing/rewriting my first draft soon, and I'm becoming a little nervous about it. Just a tad.

  • Should I work line by line from the beginning to the end, or skip around?
  • Should I make all my revisions at once, or focus on one issue at a time?
  • How can I make sure my edits and revisions stay organised?
  • How long should I give myself to edit the entire draft?
I've been looking around and have found a few guides, but most discussion seems to be about writing - the daily slog, word counts, cures to writer's block to name but a few. Not much on editing. But then I thought - why not ask for help?

So I'm reaching out to everyone who reads this blog - please leave a comment or email your experiences, tips, tricks, links or blogging on the subject. I'd really, really appreciate it. Whatever you have, even if you think it is unimportant, will be a help.

Thank you!


Holler said...

I am afraid I can't offer you any advice, but I am wishing you well with this next stage!

Anonymous said...

Not sure I can help with any of them, but for what it's worth I go line-by-line to make sure that everything flows correctly. I also like to print out whatever I'm editing so that I can use fun pens. But I'm weird like that! ;)

Brennig said...

The advice I got from a professional in the field was to start at the beginning of the work and when you get to the end, stop. In the meantime write (as you read) a complete text of every change. Version-control your master file and build the new changes in to the second version. Then read that and see how it 'feels' compared to the master file.

Also - give your master file to a readers group/book club and ask them to crit it. Their crit might invoke some necessary rewrites.

But good luck however you do it.

Jen said...


Sol Stein's is a good book to work through when thing about editing.

I think just ketting it rest for a bot before printing and re-reading works wonders. Oh, and don't forget to fill in gaps. Your readers aren't psychic!

Jen said...

Oh good God! Apologies for spelling in previous post. Am a spaz. Alo , my lappy is a bit duff. A bit like my brian!!!!!!!

hellojed said...

Thanks Holler! I need and appreciate the encouragement!

Beth, I think I might print it out too, mainly because I find it easier to read from paper rather than the screen.

Brennig, I've just been finding out more about master documents and version controls, great suggestion thanks! Might post a 'how to' once I've got the hang of it all.

Jen, thanks for the book suggestion, I will definitely check it out. Thankfully I've been able to take a break from my first draft so I should be nice and fresh when I tackle it again. And your second comment made me lol!

hellojed said...

The lovely George from pb has posted about my dilemma here:

alfaking said...

It's a very hectic stage you've reached. I do hope George's post gives you an incite on the worries about editing. Good luck.

alfaking said...

Sorry, misspelling; It should "insight", not "incite".

Angie said...

Ah, thanks for the shoutout! I haven't been through the full ms edit, but I'd start from the beginning and go straight through to the end on the first edit so you can see if it works as a whole, get a feel for the flow, etc. Once you've done that first read-through, you can always dive more deeply into particular sections.
"Self-editing for Fiction Writers" is a helpful book that might have some advice.

jenny said...

Using the 'versions' tool in Word is a lifesaver - I'd definitely recommend it, along with the 'Track changes' function, if you're editing onscreen. But sometimes I find it easier to print everything all out and get out the red pen! So it depends on the day. Also, I'd agree with the other comments that a straight readthrough of the draft is a good idea before going back to make serious adjustments.

That and lots of cups of tea/drink of choice! Maybe it's just the way my weird brain works, but it seems to help me concentrate if I'm sipping a cuppa.

Good luck with the edits.

hellojed said...

Angie and Jenny, thank you both for your advice. I now feel a lot more confident about editing - the support has been inspiring!

Angie said...

I noticed a few people mentioned the 'versions' tool in Word - can anyone tell me how to get to it?

hellojed said...

Angie, I'll post about it at some point, but this tutorial about document versions looks good - depends on your version of MS Word though.

hellojed said...

And here is a short explaination of master documents.

Helen said...

I read wannabe a writer a while ago and she outlined some good strategies. Next week when I start tackling the edit I am going to reread and do what she suggests as I remember thinking it was a good idea...

hellojed said...

Great Helen, will give that book a go too.

Emerging Writer said...

First the golden rule is to put it in a drawer and forget about it for a while. The dilemma is how long to leave it. Personally I have a terrible memory and find that two weeks is OK. Two months is better but if I leave it 6 months or more, I might as well be reading someone else's work!

Then print it out and read it through from start to finish as a virgin reader would. Don't start to edit as you go or you'll never get to the end. If you see something glaring, just scrawl in the margin and come back to it.

Dermot Bolger says to write the first draft with fire in your veins and the edit the next drafts with ice.