Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Write, Edit, Revise, Repeat

As I mentioned yesterday, I cannot wait to start editing my current project. I wrote it for NanoWrimo so now that the dust is settled I'm interested to see what is left. At the same time, I'm a little nervous because I've become so comfortable in the writing part that I don't know where to start with editing. Besides the beginning, I guess.

Lucky for me, and you, I've found some great advice on this very subject!

Take a Breather
Almost everyone agrees that it is beneficial to take a break between finishing a first draft and beginning the editing process. This makes sense to me. I have seen how characters and plot lines will sort themselves out while marinating in the back of my mind. When I come back to them I can see where they need to be tweaked and revised to fit better with the end product. However, I need some time to step back and look at the draft as a whole. The recommended amount of time to wait varies from 15 minutes up but a break is definitely suggested.

Slash the Trash
This is a phrase I heard often, always in a British accent, my senior year of High School. Just off the top of my head I know there are several passages in my work that need major trimming. Cut out the sections you know people will skip over and the parts where you wax a little too eloquent on a particular setting or character description. Look at every word - are they all absolutely necessary? Or are you missing some important ones? Cutting is important, but so is adding where you need to.

Read it Aloud
This is actually a technique I have not yet used so I will refer you to others. I fully intend to try reading my draft out loud for this project.

Writer's Community lists 5 reasons why to read it aloud:
1. Make sure your readers will 'hear' things they way you intended.
2. Helps you catch mistakes.
3. Helps you pay attention to the nuances in the language.
4. Establishes your 'voice.'
5. It prepares you for readings

Mary E. DeMuth at The Master's Artist also recommends reading aloud because you will find errors but give 3 other reasons, too:
1. You find you pet words, the ones you use too often.
2. You catch awkward sentence structure.
3. You catch repetitive themes.

Ask a Friend to Read It
I've done this plenty of times and I always seem to choose really kind friends. It's great for my ego but sometimes I want a little more constructive criticism. Thanks to Gary Smailes and BubbleCow I have the perfect how-to list when asking friends to critique my novel!
- Give them permission to criticise.
- Explain what you want.
- Look for specifics and 'framed' feedback.
- Be prepared to ignore.
- Listen to the critique with an open mind.
- If you have to explain then it's time to rewrite.

Checklist & More
Joe Nassise wrote this checklist for when you start revising on Genreality. It is a great place to start when you want to start editing. Can you answer all these questions about your novel?

There's also a great post on revision on Allen & Unwin with a couple of book excerpts, including another great list of things to think about.

Here's the BubbleCow post that lists Tips to Writing a Great Second Draft of Your Novel.

And the Fuel Your Writing post on The First Step to Being a Better Writer.

What do you think?
What do you do when you're editing and revising? Do you enjoy this process or is it a struggle for you?

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