Editing is Writing   6 comments

How do you know when you’ve done all the editing you can on your story? Or that you’ve gone too far?

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As Many Times As It Takes

Editing is the working part of writing for me. I really enjoy the discovery of the story on the initial writing. As a discovery writer, I don’t really know what’s coming until I get to it. But after my first pass, the story isn’t over. There are holes in my story that you could drive a truck through and they need to be closed. Since I’m writing series, I need to check in with secondary threads. So my first editing pass fills in the holes and asks if things can be left off. I prune and fill in, reshape and move around. I actually enjoy this part almost as much as the first draft.

The second pass of editing is where the real work of looking for errors — spelling, grammar, passive voice construction, words I don’t need–begins.

The third pass is more of the same, but I run it through Grammarly to assure I didn’t miss any grammar errors. The fourth pass involves letting the computer read it aloud. I find a lot of errors this way and sometimes I hear sentence constructions that need to be revised that I missed when I was reading silently.

Then I send it to my editor who says she goes through it three times. She makes suggestions in the comments section rather than changing my writing and letting me figure out what she’s done. When it comes back to me, I do another pass and make the changes I think make sense and then I let my husband read the manuscript with a highlighter in hand. Sometimes he catches some stray errors.

When Has Editing Gone Too Far

In all honesty, I think I do enough editing passes, but I’m aware that you can edit too much. At writer’s guild meetings, I sometimes hear other writers talk about how they wrote 30 pages and then just deleted it all. I don’t do that. Although I change my manuscript, I save large passages in a slush document for later use — maybe. Sometimes I find gold mixed in on another pass of the dross and it shows up in a later book.

Posted August 22, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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6 responses to “Editing is Writing

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  1. Grammar errors can bite me if they conflict with the rhythm of narrative and dialogue. Thank you, Elmore Leonard. It all comes down to voice. Is this a chatty, conversational piece? A hard-hitting noir? There’s a time and place for grammar Nazi (I’m married to one) and all the “rules”. How many top sellers, mainstream publishing house books have I picked up with a passive voice opening line? It’s an epidemic. Even in Edgar nominees for best first outing. I am a stickler, outside of dialogue, for “felt” etc. issues. It didn’t feel warm, it was warm to the touch, that kind of thing.
    I can’t understand how anyone can write without rewriting everything over and over again. – Tolstoy

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  2. I use prowritingaid, but get a kick out of the occasions when the software goes back and forth on the proper grammar for a particular phrase.

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    • I’m a big believer in doing what works for you. When I’m writing fantasy, Grammarly appears to have a meltdown. Yes, absolutely, these people don’t speak standard English. I have to ignore it a lot. But it does catch misspellings and punctuation errors. I trained as a journalist, so I don’t believe commas should exist, but I let Grammarly correct my training.

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  3. There’s only so many times you can go over a story without becoming sick of it. I usually edit each chapter as I go rather than the long slog of 70,000+ words.

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    • I do some editing as I go too. If I see an error, why would I leave it? But I’m not seriously looking for errors until I sit down with the whole rough draft at the end of the “writing” phase. But it’s never the end of the writing phase, because I inevitably find holes that need to be filled. And, THEN, I get serious about editing.

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  4. I’m the same way. I keep the pieces I cut in case I can find a future home for them. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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