Can I Copy You????

I’m two-thirds through my first edit of my book and am at a loss. There are soooo many things to look for! I originally thought I would go through it with a fine tooth comb, but nope. That is not what is really transpiring.

I feel like I am on a rabbit trail, first focusing on one thing (such as sentence flow and structure), then see a glaring POV problem and start focusing on that. It is one thing after the other and I KNOW I am missing so much stuff.

So, you veteran writers out there. How do you edit? Do you edit in layers, going through your draft several times, focusing on different areas? Or are you able to get down and dirty with it and bang it all out at once. Maybe there is a better way to say that…. are you able to focus on ALL facets of editing and revision without being distracted by…everything.

Is this just a matter of experience? A matter of finding what works for me?

Well, I want to know what works for you! Maybe I can be a copy-cat.

24 responses to “Can I Copy You????”

  1. Sherrinda, with each novel I've written there seems to be less glaring problems. POV issues for instance. In my first novel I head hopped all the time, now I never head hop but I might “slip” spiratically and write a line in the grey area that makes me question if he could really know that because of the way it was phrased, so those are very easy and quick to fix.

    I've been told to focus on one element at a time and take several passes, but I can't. I must fix things as I see them. But I warn you, as a result of this method, you don't save passes over your manuscript, at least I don't. Because then you go back over it to check that your revisions are sound and find a few more misses, fix them, and then of course you need another pass to check that all is okay again. I have yet to get through a pass without changing anything, but each pass does require far less revising.

    Good luck with it, Sherrinda, remember, just as there is no right or wrong way to write, there isn't a right or wrong way to edit/revise either. You just have to discover what works for you and hone that method.


  2. My advice is to go through your book in layers. First do the big things–plot threads, POV, cohesiveness, character development, etc. I accomplish this by doing a read-through and marking areas I need to change, jotting down notes of major issues. Then I'd go back and work on all of those changes–which might mean editing and deleting whole areas of chapters/scenes.

    Then once I finish that layer, I go through each chapter again and do another layer, but this time look for smaller things like awkward sentences, passive tense, adverbs, adding sensory details, etc.

    That's how I handle mine. But everyone is different, and I'll be curious to hear what others do!


  3. Sherrinda, unfortunately I can't add anything to what Eileen and Jody said. I will say that I was thinking about you yesterday – wondering how the editing was going. I already know that I'll have my work cut out for me when I hit that phase. So, great question. I look forward to stopping by later to see others' comments.


  4. I'm not a veteran so I'm looking forward to these answers. It feels like I read through/edit my book about 3-4 times before I ever let another eye look at it.
    ~ Wendy


  5. Editing is a tedious process. I've gone through my MS 4 times already and I still feel like there is something missing.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do it. You just have to do what works for you.

    Good luck!


  6. I have done it differently for each book but I know once I print off a hard copy, I see so many things, But I can check for plot errors that way better first then I dive into the rest of it. Over and over until I am satisfied.
    Do what you are doing– I promise it will come together!


  7. I think everyone does it differently. I tend to go line by line, fixing whatever I see as I come across it. It's a pain, esp. with my first finished book. I'll be honest. I think I went through that thing like ten times. Printed it up three times. Like Eileen said though, each subsequent manuscript gets easier, so take heart. πŸ™‚

    Some people do go by layers, so I guess just whatever works for you.


  8. not that i'm veteran, by right now in my editing, i'm going back through each scene to make sure i have a goal, motivation and conflict. it would have been much easier to have written it first with this in mind, of course, but there you have it. when i realize one or more is missing, i'm tweaking.


  9. I'd love to hear what the veterans have to say, too! Right now I'm going over my WIP and marking it up, and will go back a second time to fix major issues. And then go through it again… and again… and again… A short process, it is not!


  10. Oh girl, you are “in it”. Right in the thick of it. Hmmm…I'm not a veteran either. But how do I handle revisions?

    I both adore and abhor revisions. I adore them because I love taking my squalor and making it shine. I abhor it because I get SO close to my story that sometimes it make my head spin.

    How do I revise? I read over it about a bazillion times until I feel like puking or flushing it down the toilet. Once I reach that point, I know I have a masterpiece on my hands….wait, no. Sort of.

    Okay, I just go through it A LOT! I wish I had a better system. I wish I went for the big things first, then did a line edit. That sounds like the smart, logical, sane thing to do. But I try to fix everything at once. I'm starting to think this is a bad idea.

    I might try Jody's method after I finish this next book. That's what James Scott Bells recommends in Revision and Self-Editing.

    So, how was this for helpful?


  11. One last thing…food for thought. Revising is the longest stage for me. I actually write the rough draft in less time than it takes me to finish revising. Hope that doesn't scare you. Jsut remember, everybody's different!


  12. I revise by doing a read-through of the entire work and making notes on big things, then go through each chapter to polish it as best I can. Then I send it to my crit partners and they get to carve it up, picking out all the stuff I missed. Then I edit it again and send it in. πŸ™‚

    Keep perservering, and if you need to, put it aside for awhile. You'd be amazed at how stepping back from it and gaining a little objectivity.


  13. I have my chaps critted, then I edit using those comments. After that, I feel I'm ready to look for little things since the big ones were hopefully caught by the gals (or me) already.

    Fun, isn't it?

    Lynnette Labelle


  14. I don't think I'll be of much help. I usually just finish a book, go away from it for a while, then come back and print it out and read it beginning to end over the course of several days. I madly scribble notations and corrections and then work from there in changing what needs to be changed. I don't even go back to the computer to make one change until all of my hard-copy reading and revising is done.


  15. I feel your pain! I've tried many methods, and the one that works best for me is basically Jody's method.

    I read the entire thing and post “comments” in Microsoft Word in the margins. I may tag things I love or things that need work, especially transition, plot, and character problems–anything! I don't make any changes at this point, I'm just noting where additional work is needed.

    Then, I save that copy as a second draft and begin making the noted changes chapter by chapter.

    When those changes are made, I usually have someone read through each chapter I finish, and I move to the next chapter while I wait for their response. When the entire book has been revised this way, I save the draft as a third draft and start working on critique feedback.

    Then I get into line edits and I find/replace my lazy words.

    The final draft is when I read it out loud to find any continuity issues.

    It's a long, long process, but I'm really working on writing my first drafts tighter so I don't waste as much time on revising.

    Good luck! You'll find a method perfect for you!


  16. I find when that happens to me, I haven't let enough time slip between writing and editing. Maybe try that?


  17. Hi Sherrinda –

    I do a line by line edit, and go after every problem I find. If I locate a biggie that affects the overall plot, I focus on resolving the issue.

    Susan πŸ™‚


  18. Ahhhhh…revisions! I really hate that part of the writing process. It was so much fun putting it all down on paper the first time around and now I have to go back and pick it to pieces!
    I am currently editing my first book. NOT FUN! And I have a different approach. I have to edit for small things first. I know, probably silly, but I get so distracted by all the spelling and grammar mistakes when I am reading that I just go fix all that first. Then I go looking for all the BIG problems. I usually do with with someone else. My sister in law is very gifted in this areas and is helping me work through this stage. I really suck at seeing the errors in my own work though. So I need another set of eyes.
    All the best with this process. Let us know how it goes.


  19. Sherrinda, congratulations on making it through two-thirds of your first editing pass. That's quite an accomplishment. I'm proud of you!!

    I generally perform a micro edit first, marking everything I see on a hard copy and inputting the changes. I then move on to a macro read, focusing more on plot, GMC and so on. Next I'll read to see what's missing. Does a scene need more sensory detail, description or emotional impact?

    Because I enjoy editing almost as much as creating the first draft, and because I'm so OC I could rival Monk :-), I have a hard time saying “Enough already.” That's where my CPs and my hubby come in.


  20. Oh my! After a day in Granbury with my mother, (who had foot surgery this morning)I came home to find all these wonderful, wonderful comments! If you don't mind, I won't respond to each one. I am just too tired! πŸ™‚
    But I love hearing how each one does the editing differently. What a variety! I love it! You've given me some ideas and I thank you all for taking the time to share your expertise with me! You guys are awesome!


  21. Sherrinda: I am no pro, but I know a few who have really helped me. One is Keith Drury, who says he goes through his ms. ten to fifteen times. He has a cd telling exactly what he looks for each time. I will be happy to send it to you, or the notes I took while listening to it. It helped me a ton. If you want it, send your addy to me at:

    One word of encouragement: It helps if you edit some, then do something different for a few days, then go back, otherwise you do get sick of it. Let your brain rest a bit between edits, and you'll discover and fix the boo-boos easier.
    Love, Jen


  22. Forgot to add; I hired an editor to go through my ms. It hurts to see all her notes, but in the end, my writing will shine much brighter. Her major correction of my writing is: “get rid of the passives.”
    Love, Jen


  23. My youngest son will be 41 tomorrow but have not seen him in about 8 years, he and his family lives across town but he will not have anything to fo with his family, hers is fine.
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  24. Wow you're son is so handsome! I'm thrilled he found someone wonderful to share his life with. What a great mom you are, couldn't have been too many mistakes at least the scars aren't noticeable lol!


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