Let me explain.
We have all heard the expression, pick your battles to win. It is the same approach when it comes to editing. It all comes down to focusing your attention on a document in a single area and really "going for it." When I teach these workshops, I call this approach, Targeted Wave Editing©. In simple terms - pick an issue and edit for that.
O.K. now let me take this a step further.
I am not saying to not edit for everything in a project throughout the editing process. The twist is that each round of edits I do focuses only on one, or a small number of areas of concern. When I come back for a second, third or who knows how many different rounds, I focus on completely different things. Here is the rationale for it. As someone editing, our brain simply cannot handle the number of variables that are in play when we read a project. As a result, if we tried to get to everything on a single pass, we would often have contradictory comments and changes, the depth of changes would not be there and, in the end, we are making more work for ourselves. The editing after this will become pretty repetitive and we might end up reverting back to original ideas.
For the person receiving the critique, this is also too much too handle. When I am working with educators, I point out the simple fact that if I did mark everything on a beginning student learning the process, the odds are the school drop-out rate would hit record numbers. We would really feel pathetic. If you want to practice this, take your current work in progress and run a test. Open up your spell and grammar checker and change the setting to GRAMMAR AND STYLE
Now run your story through it.
Unless you are an amazing grammar guru and really did check everything as you wrote, you will end up with more wiggly lines under everything you wrote. You will feel pathetic. And, if you are working toward a deadline, feeling this way is not the way to go.
When it comes to Targeted Wave Editing© the goal is simple. Edit your story in "waves" and focus only on small portions. It really doesn't matter what you look for and in what order, but keep it simple. I personally think you work from big to small.
- Read for plot issues - Is the story heading in the right direction.
- Read for simply narration - Are you showing and not telling?
- Read for dialogue - Are these people sounding "real"?
- Read for character development - Do we know enough about each of the characters?
- Read for transitions - Does this flow smoothly between scenes and chapters.
- Read for head-hopping and point of view.
- Read for just one character at a time.
- Read for grammar and formatting.
- Read for missing holes in anything.
Look, editing takes time, but if you focus like this with a Targeted Wave Editing© approach, you will find that, although you do have to check it numerous times, it will fell like it is moving much quicker.