Editing – Personally and Professionally

You’ve completed your writing project! What’s next? Whatever it is you’ve written (novel, short story, screenplay, etc.) agents and publishers will tell you, “Next step: Edit, edit, edit. And then edit again!” Let’s explore what editing really entails.

Did you know that there are several different types of editing?  Yep, yep, let’s take a look.

Personal Editing:

  • Edit for Efficiency
    • Read your manuscript specifically for efficiency. Snip the loose threads that do not tie directly into the plot of your story.
  • Edit for Motivation and Clarity
    • Revise the story to ensure a clear understanding of what is at stake, and what the main conflict of the story will be.
  • Edit for Style Cleanup
    • Edit for wobbles in your writing style.
  • Proofread for Tiny Errors
    • Your eyes get accustomed to your writing and tiny errors are missed.
  • Beware of Jargon and Heavy-handed Writing 
    • Simple is almost always better.
  • Fix Misused Words and Phrases
    • Double check the word you’re using means what you think it does.

Professional Editing:

  • Developmental Manuscript Evaluation (DME)
    • Professional editors will read your manuscript and provide a thorough, helpful DME to address larger issues. Editors verify what’s important in your story: Indicate what writing needs to be compressed to help move the story forward: Make sure the reader gets the right material at the right time: Identify what characters are needed in your story: And ensure the villains pay off.
  • Line Editing and Critiques
    • Line editing aims to correct punctuation details, and catch awkward word use.

With gusto, I recommend both DME and Line Editing. I learned so much from both techniques, which strengthened my writing and editing style. Below I’ve written out the timeline and editing schedule I used for my novel.

JANUARY 2010 – JANUARY 2011: Wrote the novel.

FEBRUARY 2011 – APRIL 2011: Edited the novel myself. Reading through each chapter, I re-wrote sentences and added scene details. Anywhere a scene lacked character depth, I added brushstrokes to character’s personalities.

APRIL 2011 – SEPTEMBER 2011: Mailed the novel to my first editor for a DME. Note: A six-month long evaluation period is not normal. The feedback I received was very helpful. The editor pointed out holes in character development. For example: One of my characters, a mother of two, has a vital role in the story, but was missing scenes to really illustrate her vulnerable human side. Without the evaluation, I wouldn’t have thought to add more of these scenes.

OCTOBER 2011 – DECEMBER 2011: Wrote more words! Approximately 10,000 more of them. I added sub-character brushstrokes who’d, up to that point, been a bit ignored.

DECEMBER 2011: Sent the new version of the manuscript to a different editor for another DME. The notes I received were invaluable. Not only did I receive detailed feedback on where my writing tended to get heavy-handed, but I also got details about which characters were vitally important and which I should consider cutting. I also received feedback to re-arrange the first five chapters to get to the heart of the story faster.

JANUARY 2012 – FEBRUARY 2012: Back to the drawing board: compressing scenes, adding scenes, cutting characters and finding more character depth. The feedback and perspectives gave me ideas on how to grow and evolve the novel. (Seeing the manuscript blossom into a polished literary piece has been very exciting.)

FEBRUARY 2012: Sent the first half of the manuscript to be line edited. Line editing will always be beneficial for the pure and simple reason that human error exists. Writers are going to make punctuation mistakes, and that’s okay! Hire a line editor to clean up your novel’s tiny errors.

MARCH 2012: Second half of the manuscript was line edited. Reviewed and implemented all final editor notes.

APRIL 2012: And here we are today! April 2012, and my manuscript has been through the ringer! Two years, and two editors later, my book is polished and ready to go, and I am actively seeking representation! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the information I’ve learned through my novel writing process! What are your thoughts? Have you gotten anything edited? Any recommendations or buyer bewares? Comment below!


3 thoughts on “Editing – Personally and Professionally

  1. Nicely done, by looking at this time frame you are taking a great deal of time on this novel, and it also good to hear that that editors that you got are not just going over spelling and grammar but more importantly the story as a whole plus characters, plot, etc. However one thing that I would recommend (if you had not done it already) is go over it again and make sure that everything falls into place. One example that I can think of “How did the editors/author missed this” would be the classic novel “Return of The King” where at the end they were saved by griffons that came out of no were from the raging fires of Mt Doom and it was never explained on how they found them and why didn’t they use them from the very get go. But knowing you,and how much of a creativity you have I know your novel will be great, keep it up 🙂

  2. I’m wondering how the two different editors’ reports meshed. Were they similar? Was there conflict? What would you do if there was? I don’t think I would work with two editors and don’t recommend it, because everyone has their own tastes and biases, and you can’t knock yourself out trying to please them all. You might even get confused. (“You can’t please everyone so you gotta please yourself.”–Ricky Nelson).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s