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How to Tackle the Editing Beast Part 1

photo found here:

When I saw this picture, I burst out laughing. Yup, the main part of writing is editing. Not nearly as fun as the romantic notion of the caffeine-fit typing attack we’ve all grown up thinking writers experienced. But it’s still my favorite part because I can finally mold something worthwhile 🙂

I’ve been staring at my editing to-do list on this RBRP book for about a month now. Each time I start editing I have to remind myself that when I’m facing a massive project, the most manageable way to tackle the blasted thing is to break it down into manageable chunks.

I half the editing beast by focusing on the big picture stuff first, like character development and building tension, then the small details like sentence structure and word choices. Here’s what I’ve been doing for the big picture edits for the past several weeks:

While writing that pesky first draft, I usually make a list of of items that need further attention and any other ideas that come. (Many times if I have an idea, I’ll change direction mid-draft, then have to go back and make the first half of the manuscript to reflect it.) I tackle the small to-dos first, then add in the bigger ones.

this is a screenshot of Scrivener and my to-do list that came up during first drafting

Because this book has multiple POVs, I read through each POV by itself to make sure the voice is strong enough and each person story’s is complete by itself. If there are any plot holes within the POV, I tried to catch them here. I tend to work with one POV at a time, otherwise I get them all mixed up in my head and everybody sounds the same.

These are all my files for Breaker’s POV (before I changed his name to Breaker…)

Then I read through the entire thing as a whole, meanwhile adding to my list of to-dos like hammering out any other plot holes and checking details. Once I took care are of those, I sent it to my critique partners along with a list of questions for them. Once I’m through their comments, I can move on to the sentence-level edits.

Ta-da! That’s the first half, the big picture edits.

What are your techniques for breaking down a big project?

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Love the pie chart!! 😀 So true, so true. Unfortunately, I tend not to break editing down into chunks, I dive right in and fight my way through the whole thing. then I do it again. And potentially again. It’s a frustrating way of going about it, but it works for me. Sort of.

    1. That reminds me of wading through a wave, fighting against the manuscript waters to get to your goal. Does it get it done more quickly than breaking into chunks?

      1. Ummmmmm, noooo… 😀 Although, never having taken the chunks route, it may do in reality. I just wouldn’t have the patience to chunk it all out. Somehow, I’m a creature of controlled chaos.

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