editing redrafting

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One of the things I enjoy about writing, is the continual learning curve. Every time I write, every time I undertake the editing process, I’m learning something new. Both about the actual process, and my own process.

Now, I’m by no means an expert but having written three manuscripts and dredging through the editing and redrafting process too many times to count, (including one right through to submission standard), I think I can share my thoughts on what I’ve learned.

I remember very early on in my writing journey the editing/rewriting process was totally confusing. I couldn’t get my head around the how.

How do you edit and rewrite at the same time? Do you edit and rewrite in one as you go? Do you print it out and edit first, rewrite later? So many questions, so many different answers!

After a fair chunk of research, and a LOT of trial an error I figured out something – editing and redrafting are two different beasts! It seems so simple (or stupid!) thinking back now, but back then it was a light bulb moment that allowed me to move forward so much easier.

The other thing I’ve learned along the way, is that there are different types of editing. There’s the editing you do to each draft – the structural edit which will help you work through plot holes, character arc, pacing, and story arc, and then there’s the copy edit, which is where you tackle grammar, spelling, syntax and micro level problems.

Redrafting, is simply the process of working through the draft. Rewriting. Changing. Cutting. Adding. Shaping the story into something that flows and hits all the plot points and narrative arcs that you need it to.

So, what is my current process? I say ‘current’ because as I mentioned, I’m still learning and evolving as a writer so my process is subject to change!

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First draft

This is where, as I like to say – I smash it out. I don’t worry about anything except getting the words down from start to finish. No editing, no re-reading, no rewriting. Just writing and moving forward to the end.

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The read through

This is the first part of my editing process. I print out the manuscript and read it through without making any markups or taking notes. Okay, so I may jot down a few notes if there are glaring problems (which there usually are), but generally it’s a read through to get a feel for the narrative; the flow, the pace, and the story as a whole.

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The edit (structural)

This is where I take a pen and work through the draft chapter by chapter at story level. I highlight and mark up on the draft, and take detailed notes in a notepad as I go, chapter by chapter. I also have a section in my notebook for big changes that need to happen, as in shifting chapters, sequence, and pacing. I may edit, as in change things in the manuscript, but only small things such as rewording a sentence if it’s quick and obvious. By the end of this edit, I have pages of notes to work through.

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The rewrite

This is where I take my draft, rename it as draft #x and begin the rewrite guided by my detailed notes taken in during the structural edit. This is when the big stuff happens! The killing of darlings, the fleshing out of the story, and focusing hard on getting the pace and story arc working.

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Repeat

Then I repeat the editing and rewriting until such time as feel I’ve done all I can to make the story work at a structural level, again; pacing, narrative and character arc, no plot holes etc.

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Micro edits

Once the story is working on a structural level I then try and focus on what I call micro edits at a scene level. A series of edits focusing on different things that add colour and flavour to the story. Things like developing each scene with show not tell and using all five senses, developing characters fully through unique traits, quirks, speech and making sure their actions reflect their personality. These small but important changes, can and do, take your writing to the next level.

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Copy edit

Now it’s time to focus on technical things at a sentence level – grammar, spelling, flow of sentences, arrangement of paragraphs. All that fun stuff!

 

About now, I’m pretty happy that I’ve done all I can and it’s ready to send out to my freelance editor for her structural edit. And then the process starts all over again! Yes, I’m not joking.

The truth is, writing a book is hard. Editing and rewriting a book is even harder. but, it’s a hell of a ride. And if you’re crazy enough to battle through, you’ll learn so much along the way. Who knows, you may even begin to enjoy the process of editing and rewriting, like I did.

So there you have it, my take on editing vs rewriting. As I said, it’s not gospel, but it works for me (at the moment!). I’d love to hear what works for you when it comes to editing and rewriting. Feel free to comment below, or keep an eye out for me on Facebook Live later in the week where I’ll be discussing this post.

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