Stages of Editing

There is something terrifying when it comes to finishing a round of editing. There are times when editing my novel feels like a walk in the park. Going through the words I’ve already put forward. Words that I’ve already edited before. When I move through those words again, I find that each sentence elicits an alternating feeling of excitement and disgust. A sentence feels like a brilliant construction directly next to what I think is the worst sentence ever.

The beginning
When I first sit down to edit for the very first time, the first page will leave me with either happiness or dread. Should I run into a good page one, my excitement is only heightened. It becomes extra motivation to plow through the rest of the manuscript that I know won’t all be of the same quality. This is especially necessary when I go into editing knowing that there is a lot that I’m going to need to fix. There is always a sense of dread at the idea of editing, as it means that I will need to plow into the story and rip it up until it shines.

Trudge of Editing
Getting through the slog of editing can be real tough. Similar to the enthusiasm of writing a new project, editing a project has a shiny sheen at first. However, it fades. What I’ve noticed is that I find myself over the editing process faster than I am over writing a new story. And once that blissful phase is over, it’s back to the real work. It wouldn’t be so difficult if this wasn’t the point in time where the real nitty gritty work kicks in. That means analyzing every word that you’ve put down. How they piece together and the general feel that your writing brings out. It is tough and it is easy to feel like everything you’ve done isn’t enough.

When to stop
Starting editing may be difficult, but once you’ve really delved into it, stopping can be equally hard. Once you are on a roll you feel that you can fix everything in time. While you may be able to do that there is a thing called stopping. There reaches a point where all the things you are changing become negligible. Each little difference might make the flow a little different, but ultimately don’t effect the story or readability. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t work to make your piece just how you want it. But one also needs to keep in mind that it will likely never be perfect in your eyes (and if it is, it probably needs more work). So it forces the writer to sit back and really analyze what they are actually doing at that point. Are things getting better or are they just changing.

What part of editing is the hardest for you?

3 thoughts on “Stages of Editing

  1. Editing is hard for me because sometimes, I don’t know when something is “enough”. In my head, I know what the story means, what the symbolism is, what that reference is. But do I expect other people to have my same vocabulary? And IS that too much to expect? I can get myself all tangled that way.

  2. I think the second draft is always the hardest. This is the draft when I fill in plot holes, boost the characterization and make sure nothing happens that isn’t “convenient.” It’s daunting, but once I’m through the mire of the 2nd draft, the subsequent drafts feel far easier.

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