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On Writing and Editing – An IWSG Post


InsecureWritersSupportGroup2Need support for your writing journey? Join Insecure Writer’s Support Group as we do our group posting first Wednesday of each month. Thanks to our host Alex J. Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for May: Mark Koopmans, Joylene Nowell Butler, Elsie, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Now on to my insecurity for the month: bad writing.

Yes, we’ve all heard it before. No manuscript is supposed to be good during the first draft. That’s what revisions are for. But how long does it take to fix what’s wrong with it?

I’m currently in the middle of another round of edits. The first round, I fixed plot holes, continuity issues, and some glaring grammatical errors. In this round, I’m trying to “clean up” the writing by getting rid of clunky sentences, over-used words, etc. I’m also realizing how boring my writing, and by extension, my characters are. This is something I need to fix in the next round, although I’m not exactly sure how successful I’d be.

What’s your editing process? Do you split issues into different rounds of edits or do you fix them as you see them? How long does it take before you are satisfied with your novel?


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34 thoughts on “On Writing and Editing – An IWSG Post

  1. revisions kill me. period.

    Plus, I’m a notorious ‘in process’ editor. Sometimes I go over the same sentence so many times that I don’t know where I’m going.

    So…what I guess I’m saying is we’re all in the same boat. Or, at least, I’m in that boat with you.

    You seem to have a good grasp on what to get done in each round of revisions. Just keep focused on what you are doing and resist going off on tangents (but…take notes about what else you see that needs attention).

    Good luck!

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

    • Like you, I tend to get obsessed as well with the same passages but I’m trying to do something different this time, marking some of the stuff that I don’t quite know how to fix yet and just move along to those that I can. Either way, it’s not pretty lol. Thanks for your input. Really appreciate it. 😀

  2. I’m currently editing my books and, urgh, it’s such a drain. I know in the end it will be worth it, but editing is not my favourite 😀 I have to print my work out to edit it, I don’t know why, but I see a lot more on paper than on the computer.

    Also I do read outs, because I can’t get over how much I catch when I do that 😀

    • I’m in awe of your ability to edit multiple books at once plus get some writing done. I’m doing the current round on a printed draft as well and I agree that you just notice things you don’t on the computer. Thanks for sharing your process!

  3. I’ve found it takes far more rounds of editing than I think it will. I am awful about writing a first draft, then going back and rewriting the whole thing again with major changes. From there it’s a pass looking for continuity issues, another for character development, another for language and sentence structure, and another, and another until I can’t stand to look at the manuscript. That is when the beta readers get it. Then, more editing. It’s endless.

    • Thanks for sharing your process! Glad to see that it’s just not me and the endless round of revisions is something we all go through and hopefully, I survive too. 🙂

  4. I’ve been writing long enough that I line edit fairly well in first draft. I do go back after writing a scene and read it through once or twice at normal speed. I look for pacing, flow, wording, and small-scale plausibility stuff (If I had a character holding a coffee cup, did I have him set it down again before using both hands to do something?–that kind of thing). Once I get the scenes written, then I go back and read through the whole thing and look at the bigger picture. Once that’s done, it’s on to the betas & CPs.

    Making a list of editing things helps, like usage errors or writing ‘mistakes’ you’re prone to. For the usage errors and weasel words, you can doc-search them and fix them all at once.

    One thing that I have to watch for is not getting into re-reading loops. I’ll do better at editing if I leave it alone for a while, then go back with fresh eyes. I type *** at the place in the MS where I’m working, then do a doc search for that every time I open it up to write. Keeps me from scrolling and stopping and lollygagging. 😉

    Regardless of how you go about it, it’s a process. Don’t give up.

    IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again.

    • I love how your process works, quick and efficient. I need to make a list of the words and mistakes I’m prone to. That would probably make it easier from the get-go instead of finding them in the edits as I do them. Thanks for your input!

  5. My revising and editing process is similar to yours – working on bigger issues, like plot holes, one a time then moving on to “smaller” issues. I also find getting some distance helps – taking breaks between reads then coming back to the pages with fresh/fresher eyes. 🙂

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

    • I think taking time between readings definitely helps to look at it with fresh eyes. Maybe why we always find new things that need fixing. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your process!

  6. For the current novel, it’s taken a year to edit. Of course, that’s with time off while my critique partners, beta readers, and proofreader were having a go at it. I usually don’t break my edits into parts, but I must admit I edit more toward plot/characters in earlier edits and later edits become more about tweaking sentences and eradicating typos. I try to do that as I do the first few edits too, but I catch more when I’m not focused on what is happening in the story.

  7. Since my first drafts are usually messes (as are the second, thrid, fourth…) I just go through it and fix everything I see. There are usually so many problems that it’s not worth it for me to narrow it down to only a few types of problems. Eventually I’ll get to that point, but it takes a long time form me. I’m a slow writer.

  8. I go through my drafts with a global attack at first, make notes for big issues, then return to fix those later. By the time I’m done, I have a short list and I do each item one by one. Then I send it off to my CPs and when they get back to me, I start all over again.

  9. I absolutely hate editing. It’s just so boring in comparison to the excitement of the first draft when anything can happen. The only way I can do it is by breaking it down, just editing one page at a time. But when it comes to big changes because I’ve added or removed a scene, that always leaves me totally lost.

    • I agree editing can be a tedious and frustrating thing, esp when you hit a particularly hard bit to fix. It can be rewarding though when we figure out how to get it right. We just need to figure out how to get there, I guess! 😀 Thanks for stopping by!

  10. You just need a little passion in those characters!
    My first pass through, I focus on typos and glaring mistakes. I know I shouldn’t, but I can edit anything else with those staring me in the face…

  11. It takes a whole lot longer to edit the novel than it does to write that first draft. And every novel is different. Some require so much more fixing. Especially when I think it’s fixed and come back later to find it still needs fixing.

  12. I’ve read a few books on revision and they all are basically the same. 1. remove what is not part of the story. 2. fill in what is missing–plot holes, flesh out characters, etc. 3. fix punctuation and grammar. I’m sure you can find something at the library that would help. There is a definite method to the madness. 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  13. I actually love editing, and hate, hate HATE the first draft. Haha .Thank god NaNo is out of the way. I found my MC very flat actually and all my characters sound the same at the moment so I’m spending a lot of time with them – one thing I’ve found of help is writing long conversations between two characters that don’t go into the story (because they’re way too long) but just so I get a better feel for the characters. It’s made quite a difference for me.

    I have yet to complete a novel, so we’ll see how long it takes me, but I have a feeling that I’ll need quite a lot of editing because my first draft is a big old pile of steaming hot poo. It’s rubbish but it’s there – I figure that’s enough for now 🙂

    • Getting the first draft down is the first step and if you love editing I think you got it for the long haul. Good for you! 😀 Good luck to both of us editing the mess out of our NaNoWriMo novels lol.

  14. I can’t stand repetition and yet as a writer it’s inevitable with edits and rewrites. My first draft is usually done with as little editing as possible–I want to really get the instinct of the story down, but as I pause and reflect on a sentence or paragraph just written, I edit based on letting myself “feel” my way –is this what I really meant to say? Other times, my fingers begin editing and I end up watching as a whole new turn tends to come which always sharpens the story or character. I end up going through it many times–for sense, continuity, and then I read it out loud to myself where I continue to find things to clean up. Editing is arduous but to me, it’s a necessary evil of being a writer.

    • I definitely agree on the repetition. Since I tend to obsess in the beginning I find that the earlier parts are usually the stuff I’m sick and tired of reading by a certain round of edits since I’ve read it so much already. Jealous of your fingers taking control in the editing process! Thanks for visiting and sharing your process. 🙂

  15. How come our writing can’t come out as perfectly as we see it in our heads? Editing is work.

  16. I fix them as I see them…and still miss a bunch that my agent and editor finds later!

  17. I read somewhere that it takes five drafts at least before a manuscript even begins to be finished. Right now, I have to do more than that. 😦 I think I consider the editing done when I’m too sick of the story to continue.

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