Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Revise, Rewrite, Repeat

My editing process varies and I suspect, is not the most efficient method. Nevertheless, it’s what I've been using for a while and I’m kind of comfortable with it.

First, I write. I may look over what I wrote the day before and make some changes, but basically, I write until the story is done. While I’m writing, I send my daily or weekly progress to my critique partner, who gives it a second pair of eyes and looks for grammar mistakes, as well as consistency (eye color that doesn’t change, etc.).

Then, I try to set it aside for awhile. Everyone says the story needs time to gel and that your brain needs a break and I’ve found this to be true. I’ve also found this break is good because when I go back to what I’ve written, I find it’s not always as horrible as I think it is! J

The first thing I do when editing is reread the entire manuscript. As I’m rereading, I take different color highlighters and assign different colors to different things—pink for the heroine, blue for the hero, yellow for a subplot, etc. This helps me keep track of things like POV switches, character development, subplots that fizzle, etc.

Once I’ve gone through and fixed those problems, I look for repeated words and phrases, too many adverbs, passive voice, etc. Our website has a great reference for some of these—look on the right side of the website and click on HWH’s Helpful Writing Tips.

I also look for any areas that need to be fleshed out and any scenes that just aren’t working for me.

What do you do?


  1. My process is very similar, except that I tend to do a lot of editing as I go along. It slows me down in one sense, but once I've finished writing the story, my main task is to polish it. I've found that reading it out loud helps to highlight places where my writing isn't flowing as well as it should.

  2. Arghhh...Blogger keeps kicking me out and giving me an error when I try to comment. We'll try this one more time!

    This sounds pretty efficient to me! I do something similiar with doing several read-throughs looking for something different each time. I need to get better at working with a critique partner to get outside feedback as I go.

    My biggest problem is I re-read and edit too much each time I sit down to write. I need to push through to the end, finish the mss, and then go back and polish.

  3. I also do multiple read throughs focusing on something different each time, i.e. continuity, grammar and spelling, plot holes, etc. I like the idea of using different colored highlighters for the various things you watch for. I may have to borrow that plan. It seems as though it would streamline the process a bit.

  4. Paula, I love reading out loud to make sure the rhythm is right and to be sure that what someone is saying is actually something that someone would say.

    Debra, I try to limit editing as I go to when I have to reread in order to continue or if I really think something I wrote needs a lot of work. Otherwise, I wait until the end.

    Katherine, I've found that the computer highlighter is a little bit more helpful because there are more colors available--I can never find more than 5 colors in pens and sometimes I need more!

  5. i edit too much as I write, instead of forging ahead. I need to get it flow, knowing I /can tweak later. The color system sounds good.