My Twisted Writer Brain…

Now You Know the Four Edit *Must* Do’s –So Now Let’s Look at What’s Next.

Your book is done. Your four step edits are complete.

  • 1. Read your manuscript
  • 2. Print your manuscript and red-pen edit.
  • 3. Rework the draft with red-pen edits
  • 4. Read you work aloud and correct.
  • Go HERE to read the steps and details to those four steps.

So now what?

What we as writers need to realize is that editing can make or break you.

It’s been said that story trumps craft every time but if your editing is so poorly done–or non-existent–that a reader can’t make it to the next paragraph, then the story won’t get read and therefore, doesn’t matter.

There’ve been times when I’ve picked up a book and tried desperately to read it, only to find it riddled with errors, plot holes, and basically shoddy writing. No matter how much I try to look past the mess, it becomes cumbersome to the point of frustration and futility. What’s sad is a great story could be getting trashed because of lack of editing.

I know it’s exciting to complete a writing project. That feeling of wanting to share it with the world right away needs to be curtailed because a first or early draft of a project is just that–a draft.

The above four steps are the self edits that you must do to start the process. If you’re going to self publish, seek representation, or enter the manuscript into some sort of contest then you have to let someone else read it before you let it go.

There are a couple of choices.

Use Beta Readers

–or even better get an Alpha Reader. This is a process of having others (think of them as critique partners, possible buyers, or supportive friends) read your work to look for errors BEFORE you actually publish or send it away.

An Alpha (a more experienced writer than yourself) or Beta (readers/possible writers who know what they like) readers are not there to fix your issues but to let you know their thoughts on flow, overall presentation/story, and/or the story in general. They’re not there to fix your grammar but they can definitely let you know about the issues.

The trick here is to organize yourself with some questions that you want answered. Possible questions may include:

  • Who’s story is this? (If you’ve written a story about a character that doesn’t shine through then you many need to change it up).
  • Is the main character likeable? relatable?
  • Does the story get boring at any point?
  • Where did it lose your interest?
  • Were there any distractions? what were they?
  • Is there continuity in the story? if not, please describe.
  • Any time-line issues? Describe.
  • What did you like? Didn’t like?
  • What or who sticks out in your mind?
  • Did you finish reading? why or why not?

Get a Developmental Edit

This is where you step away from the friend base and hire a professional editor. The cost could be anywhere from $250-$1500. While you get what you pay for, it’s also important to know who’s doing the edit–credentials, experience, preference/genres, and what’s included {written report? followup? q and a? discussion/explanation afterwards}.

Considerations of cost depends on manuscript length, time involvement, and experience. While hiring an editor is an investment in yourself and your work, you still need to be smart and do your prep-work (the four editing steps) and your homework. An editor should provide a quote prior to any work being done and usually asks for half payment up-front.

In a developmental edit the larger issues of content, flow, holes, flaws, and structure are examined. The editor may suggest deletions or additions, point out inconsistencies, or discuss the organization (or lack thereof) in the story, character, timeline, style, tone, voice, or general writing. Issues will not be fixed or corrected just pointed out.

It is the job of the writer to do the fixing.

In a developmental edit, you should receive both positive and negative constructive criticism.

If you get a work back and the notes are all flowers and sunshine, that doesn’t help a whole heck of a lot. You need to have that critical eye looking for the holes and lapses within your manuscript.

Critique needs to be constructive and make the manuscript better –not just different.

The story and writing style is still your own. If an editor doesn’t like something just because of personal preference then that doesn’t work. It needs to work within your perimeters of the story.

Now, with that being said, don’t be too dismissive of others opinions. Let them sit with you for a few days and ask yourself truthfully if it’ll make the story better. At that point you need to make a decision.

Remember you only get one shot at making a first impression.

Where I am Now in My Current Manuscript

In my current book, I’ve now done all of the four self edit step I had an developmental edit also completed.

The edit was interesting as there were things that I really thought I nailed that didn’t work. Once they were pointed out to me, I got it. There were some comments that I didn’t agree with and some that I needed to sit with for a while. I am now implementing many of those changes–not all–but many.

In this particular manuscript, I initially wrote one character in third person and then later decided that it would be better if they were in first person. Let me tell you, I’ve read this manuscript so many times I seriously thought I’d found and changed all the third person only to have it pointed out that I didn’t. Ugh…

Another really sloppy thing pointed out in the edit was a name spelling… character is Sofia but I had sometimes spelled it Sophia. It’s those kind of clumsy mental errors that downgrade a manuscript and make it look amateur.

When I complete my rewrite and edit again the manuscript will go for a line edit with another editor who will once again look at it with fresh eyes.

Phew… this editing stuff is hard. lol…Keep writing and for goodness sake edit.

(As I wrote that last line I have images of people coming back to me pointing out all my grammar and spelling [aka typos] mistakes. Ugh. I’ll apologize right now because chances are…. yup… that’s me. I don’t hire an editor for my blog but certainly appreciate any feedback.–oh, you should know that me and commas don’t get along.)

Now you know what to do, check HERE for Ten Things A Writer Should Never Do

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