The Editing Process


Since I was told people would be interested in hearing about the writing and editing process, I figured I’d talk a little about how I go about editing (especially since that’s what I’m working on right now). This is the brief explanation of the basics.

Heavyweight first round edits in progress.

Heavyweight first round edits in progress.

When trying to edit my first novel, I did the whole print it out and take a red pen to it.  That was handy but I found it far too much work for a first run through of edits. A huge mess of bleeding red ink is quite daunting. I think that technique works better when you’re more towards the end of the editing journey.

Second time around, I decided to put my copy of Word to good use and use the track changes feature. I love that I can look back and see what I changed in case I decide to keep something in, it’s right there for me to see. When I make deletions or corrections, they get struck through with a red line and your new stuff pops up next to it. Sounds good, right? It’s not bad but it ends up being very confusing to follow if you’re trying to go back and do some re-reading before moving on to more corrections.

Third time, I kept tracking my changes but then I would copy and paste each corrected paragraph into a whole new document.  By doing it that way, only the good stuff shows up. None of those red strikes or side comments. It’s a nice and clean way to do it, but be aware that it could cause some damage to your formatting so when you’re all done make sure you select all and keep the font and indentations and margins, etc. the same for the entire document otherwise there will be major issues when you go to convert it for digital format.

There is all the beta reading and line editing that comes in between the drafts, but that’s a process I’ve gone over before on more than one occasion.  Speaking to some of my other writer friends I’ve found that no one goes about their editing quite like I do. I think it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you.  If it helps, ask around and see how other authors do it. Maybe you can take ideas from several people and work it into the perfect process for you.

How do you edit?


10 responses »

  1. I use Scrivener for a majority of my writing because I can lay out chapters in the side bar easily and jump from one to another with just a click. So after the first draft the process goes like this:

    Every editing session I save a new copy of the document in Scriv before starting.

    In Scrivner, I compile a word .docx and then use the tools in Word to catch mistakes. As I do, I make the changes in Word and if everything looks good I drop it in the Scriv document. (I have both of them open at the same time.) Critique partners receive Word .docx and use the Track Changes tool. When I get it back from them I make the edits in Scriv, while looking at the errors or suggestions in Word.

    As I’m type this explanation, it sounds more difficult than it is. lol. I layer the windows and scroll through the word document, finding issues, then scroll to that poing in the Scriv document and finalize the change.

    Since I save a new copy before starting each session I have every step of changes I’ve made to the novel and can retrace to any level if needed. It makes for simple, easily tracked and correctable edits throughout.


    • Heh it does sound a little intensive, but if that’s what you’re used to and what works best for you, then so be it! I’ve used Scrivner as well and I enjoy aspects of it but it doesn’t work so well for my style of writing. I’m glad to see others enjoy using it though.

      • I know huh? 🙂 But what helps me is that the “clutter and confusion” of the track changes are in the Word document, keeping the Scriv doc clean. I delete each word doc once I’m done with that session. (keep in mind all the layers of change are in copies of the Scriv doc.)

      • I hear ya! That’s why I end up copy & pasting into a fresh doc so everything looks nice and neat!

  2. I am fascinated with the various methods for taking care of rewrites! What I’m getting from this as well as all the comments is, be prepared to use more than one document and/or program to keep things straight. I have my “draft” copy saved in a knock-off program similar to Scrivener, yet use a Word doc to do the actual writing since it feel more comfortable and helps me catch errors as I go. I have not yet used the “track changes” application, but am about to do so for a crit partner. I’ll be eager to see how it works so I can integrate it into my own personal system of self-editing. Thanks for all the great suggestions! 🙂

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