Anyway, here goes.
When I’m ready to edit a manuscript, I don’t. By that I mean I tuck it away to age for a few days before I start that process. I’ve found I’m more likely to pick up on mistakes and typos if I haven’t just been deeply involved in the story.
When I’m ready to come back fresh to it, I do a printout of the whole book, turn off my computer, and even go someplace besides where I usually write.
I do a complete read-through out loud and with a pencil in hand, I make a quick check mark if I see or hear a problem--any kind--but I don’t stop to fix that error yet.
Once I’ve read the story in this manner, I go back and look at all of the check-marked places and fix them. These errors are everything from double spaces, to missing words, to bad phrasing and stilted dialogue, to descriptions that aren’t right for the character or the setting. Then I do another print out and start again.
This time I don’t read aloud (the theory being that I’ve caught the bad phrasing and stilted dialogue), but I focus on the technical stuff (a broad, but essential category that includes those gremlins, like, double or missing words, comma splices, unintentional run-on sentences, and--heaven forbid--dangling modifiers).
Then I send that well-edited, well-polished manuscript to my critique group and wait. When they get back to me, I discover I’ve missed a few items and my manuscript isn’t quite as perfect as I’d imagined. More editing.
In the end, if I’m flushed with coin of the realm, I send a book to a professional editor, before I submit it for consideration.
As I’m so often reminded, “The devil’s in the details,” and I cringe when I still find an error after all of my work. However, I’ve seen some missed edits in books published by the big houses, so I know I’m not the only human being who doesn’t catch all of her mistakes.
Thank you for this chance to share your great blog space today, Diane. I loved my visit, and I hope some of what I shared will be of interest to your readers.
For more information on Lee and her writing, connect with her on:
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The author’s other young adult books include:
Sliding On the Edge
Princess of Las Pulgas
(Plus she’s the author of a great middle grade book from Dancing Lemur Press - Some Very Messy Medieval Magic!)
NOT GUILTY is available at:
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What is your editing like? What is your process?
Hi Diane and Lee ... interesting to read how you edit ... I guess if you're professional you find a systemic approach - which you appear to have done here - but we are all human as you say ... I enjoyed your post - cheers Hilary
I like the step-by-step way of editing and it is human nature to miss some little something sometimes. Diane, thanks for being a part of the Lee's tour.
I love reading about other writers' approaches to editing! And you're right--no matter how much we try, errors will slip through. The great thing is that we can always make changes to published works now (great...but time-consuming, ha).
No matter how careful I am, I miss errors. I like to read my work aloud too. Congrats on your awesome new book!
I haven't tried the printing out thing yet - I tend to read it on my kindle and just highlight issues as I find them. Might try the printed version though as those errors DO find a way to slip through!
Great article, Lee, and a reminder to watch for those little things as well as the big. Your work always inspires me.
I always print out the first draft as well. And at least one other draft.
Totally normal to find little errors in published works. It happens. :)
Thanks for sharing your process. Great to "red" everything first before trying to fix the errors.
Sounds like a good process. I think we all need to find the way that works best for us, and it helps a lot to hear others' processes.
Yes, unfortunately, it happens.
This is the only thing in my life that I can claim has a systematic approach. The rest is chaos! :-)
When I find those really silly errors, I cringe. Then I tell myself, "You're only human." Gets me off the hook every time.
And what a change that post-publishing correction is . And I hear you about the time-consuming part.
The only time I can't read my work aloud is in front of other people. I choke.
I've found that I process the paper page so much differently than I do the digital one. I think there must be studies about this. If not, there should be . Thanks Jemi.
You are one of the most supportive and kind writers I know, Beverly. You practice what my grandmother preached about saying kind things or not saying anything at all. :-)
Don't you find it's a great way to see the flow of your story?
I've spotted several big time publishers with books that have those terrible double words or the their/there error. Shudder.
Love your sense of humor. We'd get along in person!
I have never read the whole thing aloud. Not a bad way to go. And ugg, even after going over 50 times by 50 people, something still gets missed. But as you say, big publishers do it too.
I agree. It does help to know what others do; then you can give it try or at least consider it.
I get a little scratchy about Chapter 10 and take a break. But it does catch a lot of clunky dialog.
This is so great, Diane. Thank you many times over for this and for being a wonderful publisher to work with.
Aw, I say what I think, Lee. This is a tough business and we need to stand together. Bless your grandmother. Yeah, that's what I always say too. I think my mother taught it to me.
I also like to let my stories "get cold" before I revisit them. And I'll mix up the pages and read them out of order so I'm not content reading.
I enjoyed hearing your process for editing. Congrats Lee.
Hi Diane, thanks for sharing Lee with us~ Great advice, Lee! Congrats, on your latest book~
That is a great way to edit. I guess giving it to my 6 year old isn't the best option.
Hi Diane and Lee, thanks for your editing tips, must keep that in mind when I finish my book.
My editing process is similar, but I usually let the manuscript sit a little longer, more like a few weeks. When I finally get back to the read aloud stage, I'm sometimes surprised by what I've written. Do you get those, "I don't remember writing that," moments?
Great examples of how to edit. Seeing the words printed on paper seems to make mistakes jump out at me. I like the idea of reading it out loud and only making a checkmark to indicate a problem. I'm going to try that. Best wishes on this release. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Great system for editing. I like to convert my text to speech, since a lot of the time, my brain will fill in missed words when I read it myself. But yeah, hearing it aloud really helps. I just wish I had a way to check mark MP3 places like you do in your print out.
Was interesting to read your take on editing, which as you say, Lee, is pretty much par for the course. I think leaving the ms aside for days, weeks, even months, is a good idea. I hate to think any book on the market hasn't been professionally edited, but I know there are plenty. Discovering the editor who fits is tres important. Good luck with your release!
It's a great idea to let the manuscript sit for a while. When you're so close to it, it's easy to miss errors.
Your editing procedure is much like mine. I have to print it out and then I try to read it in mostly one sitting, with lots of coffee. Congrats, C. Lee
I like to wait a few days too. I find I catch more mistakes that way. I printed out my first book but not the second. I think I'll try printing out the next one. Great idea on sitting someplace else to review it.
My editing process is not very different, but I use Microsoft Word to read it instead of doing it myself. In fact, I use that feature on both small and big edits because hearing it out loud catches so much more than just reading it.
My personal belief: The author can edit her books a gazillion times and have six others eyeball it and an error will still pop up. It's right up there with the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.
That sounds like a full-proof process - I need to work on patience. When I'm done, I want to just publish.
Thank you, Lee and Diane.
Thanks for sharing your editing tips, Lee! I, too, have seen errors in books published by big houses. That doesn't make me feel any better, though, when it comes to spotting errors in something of mine. I like your idea of going to a place where you don't normally write to edit; also reading aloud. Thanks for featuring Lee, Diane!
I don't print off to edit, but I imagine it's something else that gives it the kind of distance you need because paper is such a different medium to just reading on screen. You also sound very organised with your edits, which is good. Great tips!
BTW, I know I'm late with a review of your book. It's coming soon. I read it and loved it!
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