1. Remainder
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    Remainder New Member

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    When do you edit?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Remainder, May 11, 2015.

    When do you edit your work? Do you wait until you are finished with the entire work before editing? Or do you edit as you go along? I am working on my first book and so far I have written ten chapters. I would like to continue writing, but I also think I should edit as I go along so that it is not so overwhelming when I go back and edit after I am finished with the entire book. So what do you do?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I edit as I go, but it's pretty much a necessity since I don't outline either. How do I know what can happen next if I haven't finalized what's already happened? But, as with most things in writing, you have to try different methods/combinations of methods to see what works for you. It doesn't really matter how you get there, as long as you get to the finish.
     
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  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I edit at the end.
    It helps me decide what I need and don't need once I have the whole piece.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do both. I edit as I go to make sure the prose is up to snuff - I can't stand the idea of staring at a pile of garbage when I finish my first draft. But I'm a pantser, so I wind up having to do a huge amount of deleting and rewriting after the first draft is done. I recognize that this method of working is inefficient, but damn it, it's fun, and working from an outline is, to me, so utterly boring I'd give up writing if I were forced to do it.
     
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  5. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    So far, I've been editing as I go. Not sure if that's wise though. I wonder if it's better for my imagination to go wild first and hone that into something presentable later.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've never really understood this. I think editing (I refer to it as revising) is just as imaginative as charging ahead with the first draft, never looking back. When I simply charge ahead, my scenes - even my paragraphs - are very sketchy, and almost immature in a way. Revising as I go allows me to deepen the scenes, rethinking them until I really figure out what I'm trying to say in them. It allows me to straighten out smaller-scale problems, such as paragraphs that are all the same length, sentences that all sound the same ("John woke up. He got dressed for work. He had breakfast. He walked the dog. He drove to the office. He went to a meeting at 9:30. He had lunch." Etc., etc., etc.). Ernest Hemingway said that each day, before beginning his day's writing, he would read over what he'd written up until the point he'd stopped and would always spot places he needed to make corrections like these. Also, reading your previous work over helps you fix the tone in your mind, so your new sentences don't sound like they're written by someone else.

    Imagination applies to all phases of writing, not just to the first draft. If I weren't revising as I go, I think I'd feel like I was cheating myself and my story.
     
  7. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    Oh don't get me wrong, I'd go back and edit things, changing anything from syntax to major plot points. Editing is as creative as free writing, yes, but maybe it's another type of creativity. Perhaps letting go lets you get something more authentic out of yourself. You can still get all the benefits of editing later. Yeah, the first draft would be messy, but hey, it's a draft. Maybe we just need to get over our egos and understand that things will never be perfect the first time. Just part of the process. Food for thought anyway.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think editing as you go has much to do with authenticity or ego, and definitely not perfection. It's just the way some prefer to work. The very idea of going through an entire book and tossing out pages, adding more - just too patchwork and wasteful for me. I'd rather do it right the first time. But that's the way I do everything.
     
  9. Remainder
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    Remainder New Member

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    Thank you for all the responses. You have all made some pretty good points.
     
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm kind of in the middle. A lot of my editing gets done when I put in submissions to my writing group - who are about eight chapters behind where I am in the book. I try to give them about 10,000 words at a time, which for me is two or three chapters, and I have to submit every six weeks. Hence, every six weeks I get to go back and do an editing pass on two or three chapters that have probably had about 12 weeks to "cool" after writing them.

    Granted I'm a horrible self-copy-editor, so the writing group usually gets a few typos.

    So - I'm kind of liking how it works. I'm not editing as I go but I'm also not just leaving it sit until the end.

    But I'd also make a distinction between "editing" and "revising". Editing is fixing grammar, eliminating word redundancies, adding a sentence here and there, rephrasing dialogue for flow, etc. I expect when I get to the end, I'm going to have to do a full and proper revision where I debate the necessity of entire scenes, put chapters through major re-working, add new scenes to fix holes, etc. I'm not much of an outliner so I just accept that I'm going to have to work with the story structure on the back end, and that my "first-pass revision" is probably going to be brutal.
     
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  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is, I think, a very useful distinction, and one I'd like to see more members here be aware of. Thanks for pointing it out. :)
     
  12. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well I also kind of made it up based on how I've heard the terms used. But I do think you have two tasks there.
     
  13. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I edit as I go along but I try to get a scene out - fresh - then I edit it to keep myself on track for the next scene. Usually the edits are word choice, grammar, and sentence variety. Nothing too major. Unless I find the scene isn't getting off to a good start then I'll cut it off at the knees, draw back and start again.
    Major revisions ( eliminating scenes, rewrites, scenes swaps ) aren't done usually until the first draft is out.
    Right now I'm in the midst of polishing/revising/editing - I think I'm on the fourth draft, a paper draft.
    This is the hardest part of editing - deciding what must go. Just last night I cut to three pages ( a major scene )and am attempting to turn it into a couple of paragraphs of exposition. It's slow going because I'm struggling with keeping the ideas I ditched ( and their wording )and trying to incorporate a metaphor to pull it all together.
    If this is your first work I'd keep going - edit later.
    Also edits can be separated to make it less overwhelming. You can do a content edit to focus on your story. A character edit to focus on your character arcs, a grammar edit and so on. It's a little time consuming but helpful.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the general advice is to write the first draft and save edits or rewrites til after (in order to not lose momentum and make sure you HAVE something to edit), but then as you've already discovered there are lots of writers who edit as they go.
    I try to write to the end of the draft first, and the only thing I do during the writing process is what someone said above, fixing sentences here and there, typos etc, but all the big changes (the rewriting and revising) I save it for later, or else I would never get to the end of the ms. :) Just like the question about plotting or pantsing, there are different beliefs and different habits and no real right or wrong, so just do what you feel suits you, as long as you get to the end of the ms within a reasonable time ;)
     

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