Sunday, March 04, 2018

Guest Post: An Editing Process of My Own

I'm very fortunate today to share this guest post by long time friend, critique-partner and editor, Suzi Wieland. I met Suzi through blogging about nine years ago and was lucky enough that she's stuck around to help, encourage and inspire me. She does fabulous line and copy edits and has a great sense of humor that comes out in her editing comments. It's always fun to see what she has to say when I get edits back from her. Without further ado, here is Suzi!

Trying to Figure Out How to Edit

I started writing in 2010. It seems so long ago, and I’ve learned a lot, but I still feel like I’m learning. A while back I realized that not only do I love writing, but I love editing. Except not editing my own work. I like editing other peoples’ stories, and a couple years ago I started working with some great women at CookieLynn Publishing, where I do line and copy editing.

Beta reading and freelance editing has helped my own writing so much, but it still feels overwhelming at times. But now, eight long years into this writing thing, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m figuring out my own editing process.

I can write fast and I don’t edit as I go, but that means my editing takes longer. In the past I’ve spent so much time editing, with no rhyme or reason. I read through it and revised. Read through again and revised. Repeat, repeat, repeat... with no order or nothing specific I’m editing for. I just do everything at every step. I don’t want to spend that much time editing anymore, and I want to streamline things and be more efficient. Everybody needs to figure out what works for them, but this is how I’ve been doing it lately.

After finishing writing, I’ll probably hand it off to a beta reader, and I won’t look at it again until the reader gives it back. I think it’s important to put a bit of space between you and your manuscript before diving into editing again, give it some fresh eyes.

So once the beta reader returns the story, I’ll do my first revision, including adding things like more description and emotion, which I sometimes lack. I’ll make sure all my plot issues are worked out and add more if my characters aren’t fleshed out enough. I’ll hit those big story things.

Then I’ll print the manuscript out and edit it on paper, including looking for redundancies, where I need to show instead of tell, and where I need to further develop (or cut) scenes. After I’ve made those changes, I’ll do a big search and destroy of all those unnecessary words (like JUST and REALLY and THAT and so many more) and I’ll find those filter words (like KNEW and FELT and others). I have a big list of things I need to look at, so this is where I’ll check those things off my list.

The next step is to read it on an e-reader, which I do out loud. Reading the story aloud really helps me catch stupid typos and those things that just don’t flow right. So this revision step is about how it sounds out loud but also the grammar and punctuation.

If it’s a story I’m self-publishing, my next step is to do my paperback on CreateSpace and get a proof copy, which I’ll read through again. From that I’ll format my ebook for publication, which would be my final read-through.

It seems like a lot of steps, but at least I have an order to doing things and I feel more confident about the process. This strategy is still new to me, so I will probably be adjusting as I go, but having a plan is much more efficient way to edit.

Do you have a certain editing process that you follow? Or is it an endless stream of revisions with no point, like I used to do? Also, do you like to edit your own work or is it a necessary step to publication that you hate?

Suzi has been writing since 2010 and just recently published a horror novella called Shallow Depths. She is currently working on adult thriller and horror projects, but has many contemporary young adult stories she might publish someday too. In her non-writing time, she works as an editor for CookieLynn Publishing and mostly chases after her kids and dog.


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