Believe it or not, editing is not my least favorite part of the whole process. That position is occupied by marketing, with publishing a close second.
My editing process is quite lengthy, but isn’t difficult per se. I’m not suggesting this is the only way to do this. There are a lot of ways, including the very valid step of using a paid editor.What I’m about to describe is, to me, an organic flowing process… to someone else it might seem tedious, who can say?
So I finish a first draft. Depending on how much fun I had writing it I may or may not read it immediately. If I need a break, I’ll take maybe a week. But the first step is reading it, seeing how it works as a whole. During this pass I fix glaring mistakes, but pointedly ignore fine detail.
I set it aside for a little and then go through it at a slightly deeper level, but I’m still mainly fixing major errors. If there is an issue with phrasing I leave it alone unless I know at once how to fix it.
Third time through, I start working on word choice, phrasing, all that happy stuff. I’ve gotten the worst stuff out of the way so it doesn’t distract me when I’m trying to deal with more substantial matters.
Then I print it. My printer does double-sided, which saves a lot of trees, I tell you whut.
If you’ve never done this sort of thing, let me tell you: it makes a huge difference to see the words on paper. It is not unusual for me to find something wrong on almost every page. At first I found this discouraging, but I got used to it and learned to think of it as productive.
I update (well, save-as; I save each step as its own document) the file with the changes from the print-out and then I read it again on the computer. This step frankly isn’t usually too productive, but it gives me a space before printing it out again.
Depending on how I think the editing is going, I might rinse and repeat the above. If it’s going well, this is the point at which I read the story to my daughters. (I skipped this step with Help Wanted.) Reading aloud is a step I consider crucial. There’s nothing like trying to speak your words to make you realize what’s not working.
I enter those changes and then I let it sit for a while and work on other things.
After a while, I read it again on the computer, making any changes that come to me.
And then I print it out again. Yeah, really. Hopefully at this point the worst of the problems have been addressed.
This is when I recruit readers. I welcome all skill levels and feedback of any kind. Usually I get a few people who can help me identify things that somehow I managed to miss after fifty-lleven read-throughs. On top of that, I get a few people who read it and give me their impressions and questions/suggestions. I have not yet tried Googledocs for this step, but I may in the future.
I work on something else while my readers are doing their thing. Each time I get feedback I update the file as I deem appropriate, saving-as each step of the way. Once I’ve gotten everything back, I print the sucker again.
(Hopefully) final changes made, I convert the file to preview it on my kindle. I almost always find new errors this way. It’s that whole change-of-perspective thing that is intrinsic to my process.
If the changes from the kindle-read are extremely few and minor, I start to feel like maybe, possibly, I can consider publishing.
At which point I often realize I haven’t got a cover lined up. ~sigh~ But that, I suppose, is for another post. Y’all have endured enough for one day.