Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September Update—Editing

Handwritten Page from Hope

The writing stage of Hope (The World In-between, 5) finished earlier this month.  As I type this blog post, the first editing stage is nearing completion.  I usually go through three or four edits before I hand it off to my editor.

Since I handwrite my manuscripts (still), typing it into a workable manuscript format becomes my first edit.  First drafts are messy.  Mine are no exception.  Many pages include scratch-outs, arrows, and words scrunched here and there.  The main goal of a first draft is to extract the story from your head.  I happen to find the pen a more useful tool than the keyboard for this process.  As I type, I change things.

Writing isn’t always fluid.  You stop and start, sometimes multiple times a day.  You may forget bits and pieces of what you wrote previously.  A certain word may get stuck in your head, and you end up writing it over and over.  Or, you simply don’t vary the sentence structure.

When I type the second draft, I tend to go deeper.  With every line, I ask myself, Does this line work?  If it doesn’t, it gets changed.  Sometimes, things need to be added or deleted to better develop places, purpose, or characters.

First Draft:

“Aye, nasty storm,” answered an old man at the next table.  He sat alone with only a tankard keeping him company.  “So, what brings agents of the Empire all the way up here?”

Second Draft:

“Aye, nasty storm,” answered an old man from the next table.  His weathered hand clutched a battered tin tankard.  He brought it up to a mouth hidden behind a full, wiry, gray beard.  His cloak told stories of blustery storms and wave-washed travel to distant shores.  The ancient mariner sat alone, the ale his only company.  “What brings agents of the Empire this far north?”

Subsequent edits involve more paper.  I keep at least one piece in front of me as I reread.  The top of the page has the book title and *EDITING*.  The rest of the page is where I scribble questions.  When writing a multi-book series, you need to keep things consistent from book to book.  I make sure names, places, and words I invent are spelled correctly.  If a character has light blue eyes in book 1, that must continue in book 5 (unless it changes via magic or contacts).  I also write down chapter numbers, their page numbers, and chapter title suggestions.

The second edit tackles grammar, sentence structure, consistency, and holey-ness.  Checkmarks on my editing paper indicate answered questions and resolved issues.  The third edit reads for flow.  I will sometimes read transitions and problem dialogue aloud to see how it all sounds.  A fourth edit will check for typos.  Then, I do a fifth edit where I read through the manuscript backwards, fixing typos and other errors.

After my editing process, I send this polished manuscript to my editor.  Who will, inevitably, find things I missed.  When all the editing stages end, the publishing stage begins.  And I write another book.