1. Philliggi

    Philliggi Member

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    The editing process

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Philliggi, Mar 25, 2019.

    So I'm a bit of a novice writer, currently writing my first full length work.

    Before I started I always presumed that editing was a bit of a waste. You would pick up the odd grammar or spelling error, but the story would pretty much remain the same.

    How wrong could I have been. I'm currently coming to the end of my second draft, and it remains a similar tale up until the half way point. That's where I deleted approx 30,000 words and started again.

    The vision I had just didn't work. I was trying to shoehorn my ideas down paths they didn't want to take. Mental illnesses didn't fit their symptoms, characters reactions were false and wooden, and my beta reader didn't get it, skipping to the end to see what the outcome was.

    Fast forward to now, and it's a completely different story. Characters who were the bad guy have become likable, characters who died live to be the hero, and there's 3 or 4 extra edge of your seat scenes.

    I now have a piece I'm comfortable with. There's a couple of scenes I'll be asking my beta to look at and see if they seem plausible, but any edits will be tweaks, nothing more.

    So, where do I go from here then. What's the 3rd draft all about? Other than the couple of scenes I've mentioned, I can only see spelling and grammar to go at now unless anything crops up in my beta proof read.

    Any tips for the 3rd draft onwards?
     
  2. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    My second draft is like yours: story fixes.

    My third draft is for prose: making sure I like the wording, that I’m grounding the scene before getting into anything abstract, and that my description, dialog, and exposition are well shuffled.

    My fourth draft is reading it out loud at speed to pick up anything awkward.

    Then I give it to beta readers for the first time.

    Edit: also, congrats on doing the hard thing and rewriting the story. That’s the real deal.
     
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  3. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    First, congratulations on finishing your WIP! A lot of would-be writers never get to that point. Secondly, congrats on editing and not being afraid to make a complete revision to the first draft and see that to the end.

    I would say hardest parts are over, but you need to continue to tweak the story for SPaG (which never seems to be completely eradicated) and better or more colorful ways to express something. I would recommend do the third revision, then try to get a professional editor to review, either pay $$ for one, or try to get a local college or university professor or his writing students to review it. They should be experts in the field of writing. If your work has anything technical or historical in it, get an expert in the field to review it for accuracy.

    My book was finished in 2015 and went through three major revisions and one professional edit, four more revisions, then innumerable minor revisions for SPaG before publishing 18 months later. After I uploaded it into the Createspace Template for publication, I reread it again from start to finish in the final book layout. As the book was 240K words, at the end, I was getting pretty tired of rereading it.

    After all that, a year after publishing it, someone reviewing it for an award caught the fact that I had changed one of my characters' names from Demosthenes to Diogenes, then back again. OOPS! Quick change and upload modified file!

    The good news was I still got the award, and nobody had ever noticed!

    Good luck, and well done!
     
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  4. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    There's nothing to state you need a third draft. Could be you're already done. Maybe just give it to the beta readers and see what they have to say. Some of my stories need massive drafts some need only a couple.
    This is how my editing drafts usually go - 1. word count - cutting dead weight, tightening story, character - arch improvement & cutting or combining duplicate characters, highlighting theme & linking layers 2. word count, plot hole fixes, tightening - scene to prose or vice versa, making metaphors link up with theme and layers 3. More polishing - word choice, tightening, clarifying theme bringing layers together 4. Polishing, polishing, polishing.
    I overwrite so I tend to have to squeeze scenes and bring forward characters to be introduced faster.

    Congrats on completing your first novel and yeah, I feel ya for how many changes you're novel can go through. Sometimes they're origins are not even recognizable when you get finished.
     
  5. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Senior Member

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    I about at the same point myself, more or less. So I don't have any advice for novel 3rd drafts.

    But as for short stories, something I have more experience with, that part of the process involves reading and re-reading and re-reading and putting it away and re-reading again. Over and over again. Changing a paragraph or a sentence or a word. I'm making sure everything feels right, I'm listening for cadence, I'm taking parts that are only okay and making them sparkle. Sometimes I get pretty far in this process and find something kind of big to fix that I wouldn't have noticed seven (million) re-reads ago. Never be complacent. Even if you're satisfied with it now, put it away for a few weeks or months and you'll find things to fix, even if they aren't major structural things anymore. There is always something to improve.
     
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  6. captain kate

    captain kate Senior Member

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    Word 2016 will read it back to you, so you can sit back and listen to your writing. Really helps finding the clunky sections more than reading it yourself. Why? Because hearing another voice reading it, allows you to keep up with the normal cadence of chat, so if something throws that off, then it's a good hint to check it out.
     
  7. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    This. I use it in Outlook too, to check messages before sending them. My ear catches errors that Word and Outlook can't.

    Word 2016's grammar checker is, unfortunately, a step down from Word 2013.
     
  8. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, first time I read it myself because I stop so much, but after I’ll let the computer do it. Good call
     
  9. Paneera

    Paneera Banned

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    I can only say that I only hope to have two drafts. The first I just write and then the second that I fix.
     
  10. JackL

    JackL Member

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    Once you think all structural edits are finished, that's a good time to go to copy edit level, maybe this time check for legal issues, product placement, and if you've gotten trademark products/artists/movies etc spelled correctly. Check for quotes and if the material is public domain or not. If it's not public domain and you don't have official copyright permission to use it: take it out. Now's a good time to double check all legal issues. There's a host of other copy edit to consider, but the majority only a copy editor will know about. As with how you think your struture edits are done, they won't be for a good structural editor. :)
     
  11. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    My process must be different. The idea of first, second, third editing passes just doesn't apply.
    To paraphrase Bruce Banner: "Want to know my secret? I'm editing all the time."

    It's chaos incarnate, and it never stops. Some sections have been edited twice; others have 12 Scrivener snapshots due to major revisioning/reversioning.

    I guess it's a good thing I'm not on a deadline.
     
  12. Intangible Girl

    Intangible Girl Senior Member

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    Editing all the time is a good way to waste time. Unless you're like K. M. Weiland and you outline meticulously, you don't have your structure completely down until at least the second draft, multiple drafts for most of us. It's a waste of time to edit things that might end up getting cut or rewritten drastically because they don't fit structurally.
     
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  13. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    Yes, it is. Especially when you like editing. :)
     
  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I edit all the time. For me, this is totally necessary. So, I don't really count the number of drafts I do, but I can sort of estimate and it's up there. I do occasionally scratch something or everything and that seems to be another clear draft. But I write and rewrite and read and reread. It can start to feel like I know my story word for word at times. But I am always willing to change anything and everything if it betters the story. My novel isn't finished, but I've gone through what I have a few times. Also, restarted more than once. I like going back over what I've written and refining the story a bit as I'm writing it. Personally, I see nothing wrong with editing all the time. It might seem like it's slowing down the process, but I see it the opposite way. I'm cleaning up my messes along the way so I have more time to play with my toys later. :)
     
  15. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    Realistically, this isn't a third draft as some of the story is now new material. So it is more like second draft2.0. And that's the way I'd approach it. That may mean that you'll barely need to touch many section, but there is also the strong possibility that your new sections will require tweaking the untouched parts for cohesiveness.
     

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