Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A to Z: Editing Fiction - OMG This Is Crap

2017 THEME: Editing Fiction (Because that's what I'm in the middle of doing.)

What is the Blogging from A to Z challenge and where can I find more participants? Right here.

Omg, this is crap. There comes a point in editing when this thought will probably enter your mind. For me, it's usually during the first pass when I'm discovering the plot holes, adverb nests, that corny filler scene that I breezed through late one night after a few drinks, and that long chapter where everything is dialogue. 

Take a deep breath.

You got the story written. That's a big accomplishment. Now we're here, knowing there are issues, and we're doing to fix them.

Admitting there are issues is the first step. That feeling of writing "The End" can be pretty intense.  All the words. They're so pretty! The first draft is done!

Enjoy that moment. Take a day or a week off.

There, now it's time to face reality. You have editing to do. Your story will be better, stronger, sleeker after you're done.

Depending on your stamina, an editing pass might take a couple days or just as long as it took to write the damn thing. Set a goal and do your best to keep it.

I find working one chapter at time makes those early passes more tolerable. Take notes of the bigger issues you'll need to conquer while you're fixing the smaller things, especially if those issues require tweaking or additions in chapters you're not currently editing. This will help keep you focused on getting this one part done rather than skipping around. Because let me tell you, that can turn into a depressing "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" adventure. There's no surer way to be overwhelmed by all the crap, than to visit the highlight reel by taking a speed reading trip through your novel. Not to mention, skipping around can cause continuity nightmares. Don't be tempted. It's not worth it.

Remember, it's not crap. It's a first draft. It's a starting point to something that could, with some time and effort, be pretty darn awesome.

How much downtime to you prefer to take between finishing the first draft and starting to edit?


  1. Stepping away for a bit is definitely good advice. I find so much more when I come back to a draft with fresh eyes.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

    1. Me too. Usually a week or two works wonders with clearing the mind.

  2. Hi Jean - I'm sure you'd remember some other gremlins that will occur in the manuscript that could be corrected at the initial stage ... cheers Hilary


    1. Those gremlins often reveal themselves just as I'm falling asleep and I have to quick write them down so I remember what to fix in the morning.

  3. It's funny that this thought tends to hit me in the late middle of drafting more often than when editing. By the time I have a whole manuscript, I've already had my big scuffle with the doubt demons, and look forward to doing some polishing.

  4. Editing for me is full-time.
    Even after the draft is done, editing is never over!

  5. Your post is perfect timing for me, Jean. I wrote my first draft for NaNoWriMo20126. Now I am getting antsy to start editing. You hit on one of my problems of wanting to read through the entire MS to "get a feel for the full story" and then becoming overwhelmed. I'll go with your suggestion of one chapter at a time. Thanks.

  6. How I do relate to this. Every time I make substantive changes, I get that horror in my stomach: Have I made it worse? Sigh.

  7. I agree with Jacqui Murray. I'm starting to feel this way about my recents revisions to my memoir.

  8. It's not crap. It's a first draft.
    Love that and will remember it!

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Olon Orphanage


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