Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How I edit

As a writer I love to see other people's processes, and I thought I'd share what works for me -- maybe it will work for you, too.

1.  I use a hard copy.  Every time I finish a draft, I shoot a draft over to Officemax to print and bind it.  I mention this because I told my critique partner to try it recently and she called me excited because the book was out of her head.  It really helps to see it on paper.  Just grab a nice red pen to use.

2.  The first draft/edit/rewrite, I do chronologically.  Then I read it straight through again, make more notes on the new hard copy.  Then do a second rewrite/edit of random chapters.  This helps me to keep from feeling like the revision is monotonous. Additional scenes and conceptual issues are dealt with one at a time, added in and changed gradually. Then the final edit I do chronologically to ensure everything flows.

3.  I use a cookbook stand to hold my hard copy while I put my notes into the file on my computer.

4.  I take my netbook everywhere while I'm working on a manuscript.  It weighs like 3 lbs and fits in my purse.  You never know when you'll get work time, and if you do find yourself sitting around with time to kill, you'll wish you had it!

5.  I outline rewrites/revisions in terms of overall plot, subplots, character arches, and important themes, using a giant bulletin board and notecards in my master bedroom.  I'm adding a huge dry erase board for book two!

6.  And my favorite writing/revision trick:  Sign up for a gym with childcare and work on your kindle or hardcopy while you work out.  Two child-free hours go pretty far.


  1. Thanks for sharing with us! Wait - how do you actually work out and edit at the same time? Is this when you're reading, or are you actually making notes? (I wouldn't be able to do that and yoga at the same time... ;) )

  2. Wow. I love the cookbook stand idea. Also, I now need a kindle. Gym + revision = FTW!

  3. @Kathyrn, I read/make notes on hard copy while on the elliptical. I also read books while I do crunches. I may be incapable of doing one thing at a time :)

  4. Going out to buy a cookbook stand right now. I love editing from my Kindle, it's a whole different visual from the computer.

  5. It looks like a book, Leslie. I love it. Makes it feel more real.

  6. I so need to send my book to Staples and get a hard copy of it. That's an awesome idea.

    Edit: My word verification was "undies." I don't think I've ever had a real word before.

  7. And, of course, it was underwear related.