Good morning, RU! Today, we have author Tracy Sumner joining us. Tracy explains her “wacky” editing process and how authors need to find the way that works best for them. And not apologize about their method to producing a clean manuscript!
Have you ever wondered what the best way to edit is? Have you asked your writer friends and gotten a thousand different answers? Some choose to speed through the first draft, then find themselves in major revision mode. Others write five pages or so, then edit, then move ahead with the story.
I’m here to tell you that the title of this post, The Best Way to Edit, is a bit deceitful on my part because there is NO best way to edit.
Really? Read on.
Editing is a crucial part of the creative process. Yes, the creative process. At least I’ve always felt it was part of my creative process. Getting the story on paper is great…but when we go back, we’re still creating. I’m not talking about checking for spelling and grammatical errors. When I rewrite, I often add layers to my novel (characterization or setting details, for example), review to ensure I’ve established character properly, consistently and while staying in character. J I look for use of the five senses in each scene and watch for telling instead of showing. These are all crucial pieces of the final manuscript that simply may not make it into the first draft.
Editing does require us to switch gears as writers and forces us to review our work with a critical eye. This can be hard. How does Stephen King refer to it? You must be able to kill your “little darlings”. I’ve almost cried while scrapping a scene I loved or a line of dialogue I spent hours crafting. But, there is nothing like the flow of a tightly constructed scene. I tend to overwrite, so editing always involves a scrap file for me. And, yes, I keep the scraps! I can’t really throw them away entirely. 🙂
There are many methods you can employ. Some suggestions that seemed to come up again and again when I polled writers for this post:
- Read the entire novel out loud to hear the flow,
- Have another writer read it,
- Proof separately for spelling, characters consistency and sentence length, etc.,
- Keep a list of your most common overused words and check for these (I do this!),
- Proof not only online – print a copy and proof (I do this, too!),
- Separate writing and editing sessions by a few hours,
- Read something else between these sessions, for a clear mind,
- Listen to music.
Seriously, I received so many tips and tricks! Some were actually really funny. (I didn’t include those.) But it’s safe to say that the end game is a clean, well-edited manuscript. If you chose to do edit after midnight on Tuesdays, well, you may not get the novel completed very quickly, but if you get there, you get there.
My method is the write, revise, write, revise. I would love to speed through a draft and then revise like hell, but I seem to need to go back a few pages before I start a new writing day. But the good news is, my first draft is fairly clean. I do, at that time, add layers. And I actually like editing, which makes me insane I realize.
And don’t forget the famous line when you’re in there hating the editing process: There is no good writing, only good re-writing!
Thanks, Tracy! Writers, how do you edit? What process has worked the best for you?
On Monday, author ATHENA GRAYSON takes the mystery out of QR codes.
Tracy Sumner’s story telling career began when she picked up a copy of LaVyrle Spencer’s Vows on a college beach trip. A journalism degree and a thousand romance novels later, she decided to try her hand at writing a southern version of the perfect love story. With a great deal of luck and more than a bit of perseverance, she sold her first novel to Kensington Publishing.
When not writing sensual stories featuring complex characters and lush settings, Tracy can be found reading romance, snowboarding, watching college football and figuring out how she can get to 100 countries before she kicks (which is a more difficult endeavor than it used to be with her four-year-old son in tow). After stops in France, Switzerland and Taiwan, she now lives in the south. However, after spending a few years in “the city”, she considers herself a New Yorker at heart.
Tracy has been awarded the National Reader’s Choice, the Write Touch and the Beacon – with finalist nominations in the HOLT Medallion, Heart of Romance, Rising Stars and Reader’s Choice. Her books have been translated into German, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. She loves hearing from readers about why she tends to pit her hero and heroine against each other and that great novel she simply must order in five seconds on her Kindle.
- Embracing Change by Maggie Bolitho
- Editing for Pantsers with Terri L. Austin
- Behind the Scenes: Editing
- Ask an Editor: Theresa Stevens on Ten Steps to A Clean Submission
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for June 13-17: Wynter Daniels, Wendy S. Marcus & Tracy March