General, The Selection, advice

10 things I do when I edit

So this will probably be the most boring post ever, but with all my talk about flags in Book 2 of The Selection trilogy, I thought you might like to know how I edit.

In truth, so much of the work you do as a writer is editing. You only get it out of your head once. The rest is making it suck less until (hopefully) it doesn’t suck at all. I’m really lucky because I have an awesome team that will straight up tell me what sucks and will encourage me through the rest. But, at the end of the day, the job of making it pretty falls on me. Sooo…

Once I get my editorial letter and manuscript back, this is what I do:

  1. I bind it. You might have noticed that I tweet from Panera a lot. That’s where I work. I don’t have a space to work in my house, and I’m terrified I’m going to drop it on the floor in public and just lose everything, so I have to have it bound.
  2. I pick a pen. Erica does her edits in purple. I love this. And every time I come across something that she says to change, I check it off with a non-purple pen (usually a really bright pink) so I know I took care of it.
  3. I whip out the sticky tabs. When I come across something, like a big picture detail from my editorial letter or a line that needs to change but I need to think about, I highlight it and put a flag on that page so I know to go back to it. For me, it’s dumb to waste time working straight through when an edit might take me 20 minutes to fix now… or 5 to fix later.
  4. I make notes. You know how I said I bind my book? Well, sometimes that means I punch through Erica’s notes and have to ask her what she said. Or I see something in a totally different light than she does and don’t think it should be changed. Sometimes I keep another document open just for notes I’m making back to Erica, or I scribble them in the manuscript.
  5. I go with my gut. From time to time I come to a section that might be cut or moved or rewritten so fixing what’s in them might be a waste of time. Or maybe I can’t work on what’s next because I think I know how to fix a big scene. If so, I drop the line edits and work on that. 
  6. I finish. No highlights, no flags, all the scenes in the right place, and all the notes worked in. Ahh.
  7. I go through it again. I make sure all the edits have a check by them, or if I kept something a certain way, I make sure there’s a good reason. Often, I even get a new pen and check all the checks over. That’s just me needing to be thorough. This is also the time I make sure everything I could possibly get from the editorial letter into the book is done.
  8. I read it again. I try to leave enough time to really read through the manuscript and make sure than anything I deleted or moved or added makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t all work, and I have to write some more. I hate that.
  9. I send it back. I’ve taken to labeling things “Selection 3.0” and the like so I can keep the rounds of editing straight, because there are SEVERAL. And I send my notes on anything important back with it.
  10. I eat cake and wait. I know it will only be a few months until I have to read through my book again (Which is why you should always write what you love. You can’t escape.), so I try to use the down time to read other books, play with Guy, and work on what’s coming next.

And there you have it. I don’t know if what I do is normal… it’s just what I do. I once saw an author who broke her manuscript down into small pieces and put them in folders so she only had to tackle one part at a time. That’s smart, too. Anyway.

Was this helpful at all? Honestly, I’m still freaking out that The Selection is less than a month away, and my brain is on fire, so I really can’t tell. I hope it was. Even a little.