Thursday, June 2, 2011

Editing, Step One: the Waiting Game

Since I will soon begin editing A Bridge to War (which desperately needs a new title - if anyone has any brilliant ideas for a title that sounds equally werewolf-y and French Revolution-y, please throw them at me. I will be exceedingly grateful), I thought I might share some of my haphazard editing process with you, in the hopes that it might be useful to someone other than me.

I am currently in the middle of step one - not doing anything. I am not opening the manuscript. I am trying to think about the manuscript as little as possible (this is always tricky). Ignore the manuscript! Do it!

I'm going to be doing this at least till the end of next week, and while it might seem like a waste of time, I think it's terribly useful. The longer I go without looking at it, the more distance I can get from the manuscript, and that way I can edit more effectively. If I start editing now, there will obviously be some things I know I need to delete or change, but for the most part, I will just think ALL OF THIS IS FABULOUS WHY CHANGE IT EVER?

The distance provided by waiting a few weeks to edit allows me to do what we in the writing department like to term "killing our babies." Those cute or interesting scenes that don't do what they're supposed to? You have to cut them or fix them, no matter how much you like them as is. And letting the manuscript sit for a bit first makes this a little bit easier.

This is also a great time to read. Read a lot. I have Jennifer Donnelly's REVOLUTION next on my to-be-read list, so of course I'm hoping to get a few things from that book to weave into mine (it helps that she provides a source list. The history minor in me was delighted). Reading a lot during the wait-it-out phase of editing also lets me get out of my own head and my own style, soak in some other writers' methods, and then later see what I can apply to my own manuscript.

So that is step one of my editing process: leave it alone, and read a ton.

How do you guys start out your editing?


  1. for titles... Loup-Garou? pretty sure that's how you say werewolf in French... or that might be too obvious :)
    I start my editing the same way -- or I try to. sometimes there'll be one thing that I realize is screwy halfway through the first draft, but I just plow ahead and finish draft 1, and then as soon as I'm done I HAVE to go back and fix that first thing. but after that, I usually try to take a couple weeks off, and read like mad :)

  2. I think I'm going to avoid a title that's actually *in* French, 'cause I have enough trouble pronouncing French words, and I wrote the book! :P Thanks for the suggestion though!

    And yeah. I left myself a couple of little revision notes as I was writing. :)

  3. Your first step is my second step! Except I tend to watch a lot of television in there as well. I find that getting out of novel-mode altogether can do wonders for my brain.

    My first step, you ask? A long involved happy dance that usually involves several of my pets and an occasional family member as participants.