Writing Wednesday: Snip, Snip. That’s the sound of editing.

I’ve been talking about my process of writing for a long time now. I’ve talked about how I knew I wanted to be a writer, what tools I use to work with, how I develop ideas, and how I make my plot. Logically, next is editing but what can I say about editing? It’s pretty much all the same. You read through it, cut out bits and make it better, right? Well, I guess I could share with you some of my unique tips approaches. I also have some scenes from my novel which I loathed to cut out but decided had to go for pacing and length. I might include those in future Writing Wednesday posts. (Apologies, I’m keeping it short this week as I’m not feeling very well).

General Approach

I know there is no ‘normal’, strictly speaking, but I get the impression that most people prefer to finish writing a draft of a document and then go back and edit it. That applies to me about as much as laws that prohibit fish from riding bicycles. I am not a fish, Arnold Rimmer, nor am I a bicycle.

What I tend to do is write chapter by chapter and when I hit not a wall, but an unexpectedly high bump, I’ll go back to an earlier chapter and review that while I’m waiting for my brain to work on a solution. I rarely do any major editing here, but I will fix grammar, spice up the description and make myself feel a better writer than a 3rd grade student after a vigorous game of dodgeball.

What might be strange about it is that I end up with an extremely polished beginning that I know better than level 1 of Toejam and Earl and a rough end – but it all gets polished in the final (normal) edit. I figure it doesn’t hurt and it keeps my active during blocks instead of fretting. You wouldn’t believe how much it helps just to give yourself time to work out ideas. Sometimes it’s all you need. Tea, helps. Drink Tea*.

Tips:

  • Don’t edit and ride a bike
  • … but you can edit and ride a train or a bus. As discussed in my Tools focussed article, I will use Scrivener, iAWriter or Bear to continue writing and editing in my commuting time.
  • Make friends with your thesaurus: It’s easier than making friends with a Tyrannosaurus. There’s no need to keep repeating words, and you’ll find that special word which carries the precise nuance you want to communicate. This is actually one of my all time greatest things about writing.
  • Print it out: It’s a lot easier to spot errors reading on paper for some reason, so after a couple of run throughs, print it and read it again. You’ll be surprised!
  • Read it out: It might sound ok in your head but by reading it out loud you will hear exactly how it flows and if dialogue sounds natural.
  • Make some friends: After you are bored of reading your story, make sure you have some trusted writer friends to share it with. They will notice things you glance over and offer new perspectives.
  • Keep making tea. Not coffee, tea.*
  • Starbucks makes stars: We all hate the hipster image of the writer in Starbucks, but if you are struggling to stay alert, head out to a coffee shop. It does me wonders.

Have you got any editing tips you want to share? Is there any part of the process you would like me to talk about? Let me know in comments below. 

*This blog entry sponsored by tea.

 

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