When I first started writing, I was a slave to perfectionism. Imagine a 15 year-old Sarah, scribbling all over her ten-page manuscript and perfecting each word before moving the plot forward. I don’t advise that method, but I can say that my fascination with editing started there. In the years since, I’ve enjoyed analyzing when to start self-critique and how to progress efficiently.
With this analysis at hand, I had the privilege of discussing editing with StoryForge Productions. The articles below offer a big-picture view of editing; it’s the best place to start if you want to make it to the end sans mental breakdown. That may be overly dramatic, but editing is a very difficult experience–which is why I also discuss when you should consider hiring an editor (see last article). Take a deep breath and explore the editing process.
3 Steps to a Sustainable and Streamlined Editing Process: “Editing a book is a monstrous process. Many dreamy eyed romantics start their novel with gusto and struggle to the finis, only to realize just how much work it’ll take to make a 50,000 to 90,000-word manuscript readable and enjoyable…”
Strategic Breakdown: The Developmental Edit: “Before you get into each detail, you’ve got to step back and grasp the big picture. This is the first step of the editing process: understand your manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses from start to finish. And I’m not thinking about grammar or even prose. I’m thinking big. Plot arc big…”
Strategic Breakdown: The Line Edit: “Though the line edit is more detail-oriented than the developmental, it can be just as intense. The next step down from big-picture work is surprisingly steep. You’ll find yourself surrounded by individual scenes, but you can’t forget the overall flow yet. Seemingly small details are more important than you think…”
Strategic Breakdown: The Copy Edit: “With developmental edits and line edits taken care of, you’re finally to the point where you don’t have to worry about big-picture plot arcs. All that’s left is detailed prose and grammar work. You’re still not to proofreading level, but considering the toil that you’ve gone through so far, the copy edit is minor. You simply need to clean up the rubble after renovation…”
When is it Time for an Editor?: “Every writer comes to a point when he or she grows too close to a story to see its flaws. I remember coming to that point with a few undergrad essays—after many tired stabs at revision, I would print it off and hand it to a sympathetic housemate. And that was only for a ten-pager…”