Editing – Part 1

I have just recently finished a first draft of my novel and am in the editing/revision stages, so I thought this would be a good week to discuss my editing process. This will be a two part blog with part one being Macro-editing and part two being Micro-editing. Part two will be published next Monday (May 21, 2018) so stay tuned for that.

Now, let’s talk about editing. Editing can be quite a challenge. For me, it’s more tedious than difficult, but I know it needs to be done. I know several people who absolutely abhor editing so they pay an editor to do the work for them and they just write the revisions. (There’s nothing wrong with that at all!) However, I kinda like the practice of learning to edit my own work. I may not be the greatest editor in the world, but the only way to get better at something is to practice with good form.

Before I jump into my editing process, I want to talk a little about the difference in Macro and Micro editing. It’s probably obvious, but I’d rather state it just in case there is someone who might not know.

MACRO-EDITING is all the big important pieces of the story: Characterization, Setting, Structure, Narration, Theme, Pacing, Focus, and Plot. There are questions that you want answered about each of these elements, so as a best practice method, I write down the element and a somewhat specific question I need answered for it. (This is for the first round of revisions. I ask more specific questions the more revisions I do.)  This type of editing should be done separately from Micro-editing because it will allow to focus more clearly on just the story. So, unless the grammar or sentence structure is too horrible to comprehend, ignore it for now. Macro-editing will help you iron out all the details of the actual story before diving into the smaller more nit-picky elements.

My Process:

The first thing I do is grab my macro-editing checklist. I keep it next to me as I read through my first draft focusing on one element at a time (for novels I stick to one chapter at a time). I used to like to print my work out and write with colorful pens in the margin, but I hated having to buy lots of paper and ink (which is expensive). Now, I use Scrivener. This writing software has an editing/revision mode that allows me to write notes in the margins for each chapter, has a color-coded revision process, and saves me money. You don’t have to go out and buy scrivener to do this, a simple word doc will do. You could use the comments element to create notes and color-code your comments by creating different colored text. I just chose to use scrivener so that I wouldn’t have to keep clicking the color of the text I want every time I needed to make a comment/suggestion. That became really annoying.

The second thing I do is make a plan for the revision. Taking my notes from the macro-editing portion that I previously completed, I write down the overarching goals that I want to achieve within each element (This takes a lot of time because for each element, you have to look at each individual person or place within your story). For example, one of my characters seemed a bit too whiny. So, my plan is to find a way to keep them in character, without making them annoying. How am I going to do that? Well, this character is whiny because he’s afraid, so my plan is to insert a scene that informs the reader of his actions. Let them in on what he’s going through. This will make the reader feel empathy instead of annoyed. I also plan on taking out a couple of instances where he seems whiny to balance him out a bit.

The next thing I do is write the revisions. Yup. After I’ve made a plan for all the suggestions I gave myself, I sit down and write some more.

The last thing I do is start the macro-editing process all over again. I do this until the story feels complete. Once I think there is nothing more for me to do with my story (as far as big picture elements go), I start on the Micro-edits.

Here is the Macro-editing checklist that I keep by my side:

My Macro-Editing Diagnostic Checklist:

Characterization What drives your character? What is their goal? Are they well-rounded?
Setting Are there enough descriptions of the surroundings? Are there too many descriptions (Word dump)?
Structure Is the story successfully making it from point A to point B? Are there any hiccups or holes?
Narration What is the point of view? How does it relate to the story? Is there a better Point of view that would be more beneficial in the writing of this story?
Theme Does the theme mix well with the structure?
Pacing Does the story move at a good place? Is the conflict and rising action happening too quickly or in the wrong places? Is it taking too long for conflict to arise? Does the resolution occur too quickly or too slow?
Focus Does the writing stay on topic? Are there too many sub-plots getting in the way?
Plot Does everything make sense? Are there any holes or unanswered questions?

 

What is your editing process like? Do you break it into two parts like I do or do you have your own unique way of editing. Tell me about it! I’d love to hear about your processes.

Also, what would you like to read about next? Let me know so I can blog about it!!

Thanks for reading,

KWR

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