Shaping and forming.

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series ROW80 2nd Quarter 2013

#ROW80 is A Round of Words in 80 Days. It’s a quarterly writing challenge where you define your personal goals and blog each week about your progress. It’s made to be flexible and allow for tweaking.

I’ve moved on this week to edits.

Lots, and lots, and lots of edits.

Since I blogged last week about finishing things as part of my #ROW80 adventure, it only makes sense that this is the next step in the process.

Editing is that part of the writing process that people seem to love or hate. Personally, editing has grown to be one of my favorite things. There’s something wonderful about stepping back and looking at this rough formed object, seeing what it can be, what it wants to be, and shaping it into that. It’s a process we all have to grow into as writers, and for me it took a lot of trial and error.

I still have all of the files from some old editing passes I did on some of my first books. I kid you not, there were at times ten passes done on a book for various reasons. Now, I do what’s called "versioning" when I edit. Each pass is a full digit, so 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc. And each day gets its own identifier. So today’s edits will be version 1.4 for me, because I’m on the fourth day of working on this first pass. It’s crazy to look back at how my process used to operate.

Sidney xch pottery wheelIn the beginning I had to pick out one element, say setting or dialogue tags or world building, and do an entire pass focusing on that one element to ensure that I didn’t let anything slip through the cracks. When that pass was over, I’d do another focusing on yet another weak area. It made for a very thorough process, but also time consuming.

Since then I’ve taken editing classes. Classes don’t work for everyone. Some people just need a book and some rough pages to make the magic happen. I need a combination of both, plus hands on experience. I’ve learned a lot in the last three years about how to edit, what my weaknesses are and how to identify weaknesses in my books and writing.

One of the things I’ve done that’s helped me and I would suggest to any writer, is to start an editing bible. This tool contains a cheat sheet of rules I forget, things my editors have taught me, lists of words I over-use and publisher guidelines and house rules. It’s grown from a single page document into a large, somewhat cumbersome document I’m in the process of updating, but for me it’s worth every byte of data in gold!

These days I’ll do two passes, three tops, before a book is either ready for my critique partners or editor. My improvement is so great, it’s hard to read that old stuff and see it as still being me. These days when I read a rough draft, I get excited because it doesn’t always seem like I could have written it because it’s good.

I’m having a, "This shit is good," kind of week. The book I’m editing is just that. It’s good, and I can’t wait for people to read it.

How have you developed your editing process? Editing: Do you love it or hate it?

Sidney Sig

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