Monday, July 7, 2014

When Do You Edit? A Question From A Writer

What do you tell your students about when to edit? After finishing a manuscript, should you let it rest and just soak in for awhile before starting the editing process? Or, should you jump right back in and start editing immediately, while you are fresh from the story?

This is a good question and, like I always say on this blog, there are really no right or wrong answers for this one. 

I think there are several ways of looking at this. On the first level, I personally recommend editing and getting feedback from day 1. In other words, I would not wait until the book is finished and then get feedback. Too often, major issues in the story can be discovered in the early chapters and the planning stage. These issues are certainly much easier to fix while it is still in the draft phase. Waiting until the end could result in a huge over-haul.

Now, if the story is finished, which is I think the question you are really asking, when do you need to edit? If you are going to edit it on your own, I would give it a day before I got back into it. I would not wait for a huge amount of time. The longer you wait, the increased chance that you will start doing things to the story that might take you away from the initial ideas you developed. 

I would also say, if you are paying attention while you write your story, you will probably have a list of issues that you know you might potentially have with the project. Don't worry about those while you write, but when that story is finished, dive right into those edits while it is fresh in your head. 

One of my authors knows the issues she needs to go back and fit the moment she sends it off to her editor. She is obviously shooting for a deadline and needs to get the project to the editor, but in that cover letter, she notes the things she wants the editor to look for. She personally thought these would be issues but she wants to make sure the editor doesn't think otherwise. 

If you have other people providing feedback, I would not wait at all. Get that story to them, and then get started on that next project. The time away while you work on something new might be what you need to let that prior story "gel" in  your head and you can think of the things you would need to fix.

Hope this helps!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you! so much for answering my question. I've gotten some information that I badly needed. When it comes to discovering that one bit of the story doesn't agree with another bit, I've been notorious about stopping my writing and going back to fix, fix, fix. Ruined some good flow. And made it take forever to finish the story. Next project, I will definitely try the list technique and fix all the troubles spots as soon as I finish the story. I can see how this would save a lot of re-writing time and possibly do a better of making all the "fixes" agree. Yes, this helps!
    Much appreciation, Kate M.