Thursday, December 18, 2008

Editing the Beast

So, I've completed one big re-write of my Work-in-Progress (WIP), and now I've started editing all that I've rewritten. But before getting into the nitty-gritty of line-by-line of 73,000 words, I am reading through to identify dropped or forgetten plot points or elements.

For this, I use a notebook, different colored pens and highlighters and a cup of coffee. Each chapter, I write a summary of the scene and jot down things like, "The bedroom has a ceiling fan. Mention again elsewhere." or "They talk about going on a weekend getaway - does she make a reservation? When the trip nears, does the hotel call and confirm?" They may seem like random things, but random gives your world context. Pulls your story out of the generic. Gives your character more obstacles, even if they're small. I also highlight clunky sentences, weak words and passages that can be improved. Also highlighted: passive verbs like be, was, am and are.

Once I'm finished, my WIP will look like a Pride Parade.

This exercise also gives me an excuse to roam the aisles of Office Depot and buy new pens and notebooks. Squee!

What is your process for editing the Beast? And do you prefer Staples or Office Depot?


  1. I edit right on my computer. My first drafts tend to be pretty clean, mechanics-wise, and unless I'm doing NaNo I'll usually read over some chunk of what I wrote last, of varying length depending on how much I think I need to get back into the flow of the story. I edit while I read for awkwardness, repeated words (although my editors still tend to catch at least a couple of those per story [sigh]) continuity oopses, that sort of thing. I always have a piece of sandpaper when I'm reading. :) So by the time I'm done, a couple of complete read-throughs, adding and deleting and reworking here and there as I go, and it's generally ready.

    Everything I've submitted so far, though, has been short stories, plus one novelette. It's a lot easier to hold everything in your head, keep it all straight and organized, when you're only going up to 15K words or so. On something novel length, I imagine I'll need a bit more organization, although I'll still work on the monitor rather than printing things out; that's just how I'm comfortable.


  2. There's just so much with a novel. And the thoughts and possibilities pop out of your head at all times. I keep PostIts in the car, and a notebook on my nightstand.