Editing, revisions, taking a machete to the manuscript – call it what you like, the process remains the same and it’s something I don’t enjoy … or do I ?
Having been at various stages of editing recently with my next novel Ice Angel and my Regency short story collection, Midsummer Eve at Rookery End, I’ve realised that I feel a great sense of satisfaction when it’s done. Editing might be hard graft and a pain in the authorial rear, but it’s a necessity and leads to a sharper, more professional end product. The result: hopefully, a finely crafted, successful romance that will leave the reader emotionally satisfied and craving more of your work.
Editing requires different skills and a different mind set to writing. You have to train yourself to view your ‘baby’ as a new reader would, to react to scenes as a reader not a writer. It’s not easy, but you can gain objectivity by setting your writing aside for a while. When that’s done, it’s time to get out the red pen or the on-screen equivalent. There are many books and tips out there on editing, but my method is to print out the draft and read through a hard copy. I pick up so much more this way than reading on-screen. Making notes in the margin as I go, I check on the overall flow of the story, plot points and pacing, characterisation. I look out for scenes that don’t move the plot forward, check proportion of dialogue vs. description and POV, etc.
Then, I go back and proof read for grammar, punctuation, spelling, style and eliminating any word repetition.
Finally – no, it’s not finished yet! – I read through for a third time and polish. Polishing involves a final check for any typos, spelling mistakes and repeated words I missed on the proof read.
And that’s it. Simple, huh? Nope, it’s a long slog, but worth it and – hurrah – where once there was a dirty draft, there should now be a fine, sparkling romance. Editing might be a chore, but, like filing paperwork or cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, you feel much better after doing it and a real sense of achievement and satisfaction!
Of course, the editing process starts again when the manuscript gets to the publisher, but that’s another story….