1. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Finally finished my first draft! How long to wait for editing?

    Discussion in 'Editing' started by peachalulu, Jul 27, 2018.

    Well, it took one year. I had several hitches -- weeks where I couldn't squeeze out much but a couple of sentences and the wonderful thing is long enough for a trilogy or a very long epic. Sixty eight chapters. I know I know -- I gilded the gild on the lily but that's what happens when you want to slip in every idea and when you change your ending half way through writing. At least that's what happens when I'm the one writing. The whole last half of the story had to be chopped off because I lengthened the front part which left me searching for another ending. Last night I finally found my way to it. It was almost sad but a relief to finally finish it. I've been living with these characters day in day out for over a year.

    I'm going to set it aside as the experts say for a while -- I'm just not sure how long that while should be. Maybe I'll write up some articles on my experience while I wait. I was thinking maybe a month (if I can resist.) What's your wait time before starting on the second draft and edits? With short stories I never wait and for novels I don't think I've ever waited before usually I just start right back up. This will be the first time waiting.

    P.s. if anyone has any editing tips focused on story content please post their favorites.
     
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  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Congratulations!!! I think it's good to take some time off, but I don't think you have to wait too long to get started. If the book is that long, starting at the beginning I bet you could already come at it with fresh eyes. The thing is that things often need to be edited more than once. Already, you'll be able to find things to fix and change. That's not to say a month later you won't see more errors you missed on the last go around. But I've never seen the point of actually waiting to work on something. I would clean it up. Then wait a month maybe and do it again. Waiting to fix everything at once can be very daunting and frustrating. You'll sort of have to figure out what works best for you through some trial and error. It's kind of the only way.
     
  3. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Congrats!

    I don’t know how experienced you are with novel revisions, but for me, I like to wait about a month.

    During that month, I’ll write 2-3 short stories, revise them, get feedback and revise them again. That improves my skill so I can get more done on a single pass back through the novel.

    I really feel like short story revision is a better place to practice polishing prose than in a novel.

    If you already feel like you’re great at prose and revision, I’d still wait a couple weeks.
     
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  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I need around 3-5 weeks to recuperate after finishing a novel/novella length manuscript. During this time I generally don't write anything at all, just kind of chill and get some distance so I can hack away it it with fresh eyes.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Everyone's different. For me, I cut cut cut when I edit.
    I don't need to say that twice.
    I can chop half that sentence without changing the meaning.
    Dang it, how did I miss those obvious filter words?​

    The second thing I do is enhance and clean up setting descriptions. It slows me down to worry about describing the setting in some scenes so I bookmark the places and come back later to edit more description in. I can't imagine that applies to you though because you have a talent for describing the scene.

    I also try to note plot holes as I go that need repair later. For example if I change a scene, it might mean I need to go back earlier to make sure things are consistent.


    And typos, there's always one that was missed.
     
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  6. Solar

    Solar Contributor Contributor

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    Put it in a drawer for six months.
     
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  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    As has been said above, there is a different amount of time for each writer. I would say at least three weeks, possibly more.

    During that time, work on something other than the novel. Something unrelated to it if possible. If you come up with a concern with respect to the novel, jot down notes on index cards or something, that way an idea for a fix or change or concern which might crop up in your thoughts, can be addressed when you do go back to editing--you will have that information handy (and you didn't have the concern that you might forget by the time you got back to editing).
     
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  8. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    Start another novel! LOL

    I'm about 2/3 of the way through Evergreen (50k/90k words), I'm really liking how it is turning out but I'm sure there is a minefield of plot holes and broken story ends. Steven King takes six weeks off after finishing a manuscript, I think I'll do the same.

    I like the idea of doing a short story or two, I have two in the works but on the back burner because I REALLY want to finish Evergreen. Sometimes I like to edit as I go, but I tend to just write on the seat of my pants without any clear goals till a story starts to take place.

    Maybe try to learn more about your characters by interacting with them or putting yourself into their shoes. Spinoff non cannon stories could be fun to write.
     
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  9. Lifeline

    Lifeline South. Staff Contributor

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    I can't pitch in regarding the waiting time (still writing), but for editing tips:
    1. - examination of pacing (macro- and microscale, overarching and scene-related), re-write if necessary

    2. - cause-effect
    3. - cut unnecessary words/sharpen language
    4. - the infamous 'it' (clarity)
    5. - personal pronouns (clarity, grammar)
    6. - are the paragraphs/beats defined correctly?

    7. - insert description where appropriate
    This is what I do after I finish a short, and I believe you could also apply it to a novel
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I like this video, though the editor looks twelve years old. :)

     
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  11. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a huge Ellen Brock fan and recently posted a link to one of her videos.
    That said, I would approach your first editing with a limited and clearly defined purpose.
    My guess would be developmental. Fill those plot holes, flesh out characters, ect. That way you can then focus on prose in the next draft.
     
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  12. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    There isn't a finite time limit on these things, but I found that the longer I let it sit untouched, the more effective my editing was.

    The editing I did right away was in response to my first couple of beta readers. What they told me made perfect sense, so I went through and made the changes they'd suggested. It was after that when I stalled a bit, and started word tinkering.

    By tinkering, I meant I'd go through, paragraph by paragraph, rewriting sentences, trying out different words, etc. Then I'd go back and restore most of the original the next day, because I realised the original was better than the tinkered changes. After I'd done this back and forth stuff for a while, I put the whole thing away.

    As circumstances would have it, it was nearly five years later before I started reading it again. Wow. That time lapse REALLY made a difference. I could easily eliminate superfluous stuff without turning a hair, because I'd forgotten why I wrote those bits in the first place. I could clearly see why certain passages and scenes put a crimp in the story flow. That's the point where more than a third of my original story got cut. (Which was good, as it was WAY too long. It's still long, but I'm a lot happier with the length now.) Those scenes and passages had been too precious to me to cut earlier, but after five years, they went without a tremor. Of course I saved most of the originals, so if I ever DO need to restore anything, I can. But I've only restored a couple of things from that period of cutting.

    I've since altered the form of the story, to a minor extent. I've swapped chapters around, because the chronology works better that way. I've combined chapters—after eliminating great chunks of both of them. Responding to a later beta's feedback, I also eliminated the two scenes I repeated, using two different points of view. I chose the best of the two, and dumped the other. My beta had said: " I already knew what happened in that scene, and I didn't want to read it all over again. I was disappointed when I realised that was what I was doing." (Then his compliment: "You wrote it really well the first time. I didn't need any repeats to get the gist of it.")

    I had been thinking it was interesting to witness a scene from two different perspectives. Ach well. You won't know how the type of storytelling you've chosen hits a reader, or even if it works at all—until they tell you.

    Since then, I've been attempting to think of a way to fix one minor problem that comes near the end of the story, but it requires a bit of envisioning and a scene change. I haven't changed what happened, but I do need a slightly different way to present it. One of my most recent betas, whose judgement I totally trust, and who was reading very closely, got the wrong end of the stick regarding my main character's motivation near the end of the story. It's hard, after all this time, to imagine something happening differently from the way I wrote it originally. However, the last thing I want is for a reader to be left with the wrong impression of my main character, so it's back to the drawing board on that scene.

    In the meantime, I've done a lot of proofreading and formatting, so that shouldn't take too long to complete, once I'm truly finished.

    It's also fun, after a long long time has elapsed, to find I'm reading Brothers again as if somebody else wrote it. Editing isn't all negative. Sometimes you can see—if enough time has elapsed—what you have done right, as well as what still needs work. However, I can't overemphasize the importance of good beta readers. Use them at several stages during your editing process. You will not know if your story had the effect you intended until you ask.

    I do think it's important NOT to give the same bit of writing back to the same beta reader who inspired changes, though. You don't need their approval of your changes (unless they ask to read it again.) Instead, you need to find out if what you changed actually works. You need a fresh pair of eyes for that.

    Don't overload a beta. If they're good, you're going to want them to read more of your work at a later stage—so don't wear them out by making them re-read your revisions. Resist the urge to get them to hold your hand during the editing process. (A mistake I made initially myself, and was gently put right.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
  13. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Why do you think you need a break between first and second rafts, if your second draft is just for content? To me, distance from WIP is for more for words and less for concepts. I generally go straight bak to CH 1 after finishing first draft and get started on the 2nd. That's only because 2nd draft is strictly about content.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm absolutely going to need some distance for my second draft, for, yes, content. The story is so fresh in my mind that I can't properly judge whether I've set up the emotion in the writing, or if it's just in my head. And I suspect that with distance, I'll see irrelevancies and redundancies.
     
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  15. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Congratulations! Absolutely thrilled to hear you finished it!

    As far as editing goes... that's kind of the tough part. The longer you wait, the better it is. The further you separate yourself from it, the more you can go back and fix what might be broken, or gain new insight into what you could do better. As much as it bothers me--because I have a 'do it now!' mentality--the best thing I did was three sets of six months. Wait six months, go through with an edit. Wait another six months, go through with an edit. In between, I read a few books on editing and writing in general. They helped colossally.

    The one I recommend most is Dwight Swain's "Techniques of the Selling Writer"
     
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  16. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! And the advice, and the vid Chickenfreak!
    Because I only get on the internet once a week (I've cut back to increase my writing) I couldn't reply sooner. I don't think I could shelve my work for six months although a month would be good, as is I'm already starting to tinker. I'm too impatient.
    As for a few others who suggested why wait -- I can understand that too -- (I tend to argue both sides of every argument, sorry if I look indecisive it comes from being raised by an extreme optimist and an extreme pessimist) simply because even as I was writing certain scenes I didn't think they could/would work but I was trying to get myself from point a to point b so some stuff I'm absolutely okay with cutting. And there are some scenes that I love but I know they just don't work anymore. I'm not a writer who has a problem getting rid of problem scenes just cause I love them.
    I'm also worried about starting another project and having it sound like the book I just wrote. It's still so much in my brain -- I was actually going through character withdrawal two days after finishing. There was no more what is Finlay, Eff and Kavado going to do today there story was over with. It's like characters that ride off into the sunset there is no next morning.
    TWervin2 --I like your index card idea for jotting down notes. I'm actually using sheets of paper right now to color code when certain characters arrive and disappear, and when certain plot points come and go simply because a few characters got lost in the shuffle and I'm trying to pinpoint how that happened.
    Lifeline -- good list!

    Two of my scariest issues to fix are plot holes (I don't always see those even after multiple drafts) character motivation, and coming to a viable ending. The book is such a massive beast I'm thinking of doing the ultimate drastic measure and eliminating the duel pov and cutting it back to one pov -- the older man, Kavado's. And ditching
    several side characters. One thing that irritated me about the ending was I might have dropped the ball in having a showdown with two characters I had built up as
    being competitive. But maybe that would've been too obvious.
    Anyone ever try the highlighter in Libre Open Office? I think I'm going to copy a few drafts and then use the highlighter in Open Office to color the things that can be cut, the things I really want to keep, things that need fixing etc.
    I was going to print out a copy but that would be too pricey.
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, that's it exactly. In my opinion, the useful distance is when you have forgotten what was in your head as you wrote it. What you actually see is what is actually there, not what you wanted to be there. It can take a while, especially if you've been immersed in writing a novel for years.
     
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