…And still going.
Technically, my stories were ‘finished’ in late 2014. It took a little over a year and a half to write all three of them, and I was both relieved and nervous – relieved because, hey, I FINISHED, but nervous because now the ‘serious’ part of writing began – the editing. This needed to be done before I submitted it to beta readers (my next step).
Sure, I could’ve hired an editor outright, but a couple things held me back:
1 – Some editors get paid by the hour, so why pay them for catching errors I could correct myself…
2 – I don’t want an editor spending time on minor errors or plot redundancies. I need an editor to make sure my writing style is consistent, the plot flows, and there are no major discrepancies in the story.
So 2015 became the year of the edit. Since I edited all three last year, some of the edits overlapped each other depending on which story I focused on at the time. Everyone edits their own stories differently, but here’s how I did mine (broken into ten ‘easy’ steps):
- Basic read through – catch anything glaring, such as plot redundancies and info dumps. Read at a pace I would read any novel. (January-February)
- Slow read through – catch more minor details, such as character position, plot holes, make sure all questions are answered, etc. Read at a slower pace than normal. (February)
- Eliminate overused words – I made a list of nearly 200 commonly overused words gathered from different sources, and went through one by one to catch them in my story. (March-May)
- Basic reading 2 – by this time, enough has changed in the novel that I needed to reread the story at a basic level. (March-May)
- Slow read through using a new format – I put the file into a PDF format, uploaded it into my Kindle, changed the view to ‘white text on black background’ and read the story. I did this because the layout was new to my eyes – similar to how artists will mirror image a painting to check for things that may look awkward in a new view, but they wouldn’t catch if left alone. (March-May, then August-October)
- A break. By now, I’m a bit worn out with rereading the stories over and over again. I took a break to retreat from the story and focused on remodeling our bedroom for a few months (yes, months). (May-August)
- Another basic read through – enough things had changed (and time had passed) that I needed to re-read the stories for consistencies. This time, I focused less on words and more on structuring the overall story, not just for plot but for character development, scenery, dialogue, etc. (August-October)
- Print-out for a beta reader (my husband) – Fantasy is not my husband’s favorite (sci-fi is), but bless him for being willing to read the stories. Yes, I did print out all three of them – nearly 1000 pages (double spaced, one side). (November-now)
- Out-loud read – I discussed this in a previous blog. (January – ongoing)
- Final basic read through – You’d be surprised how many things I still caught, but most were very minor and easily fixed. (January – ongoing)
So, that is my ten-step editing process I’ve done over the last year. Exhausting, redundant, frustrating – but I don’t regret any part of it, because it is a necessity and I admit that the stories read much better now than before I edited them. The last three steps are still on-going (had a break in November-December due to MST3K Hype and holidays), but by the time I’m finished I will be ready for beta readers, and then a real editor to take over.
I may not be a professional writer, but sloppy writing is the last thing I want the beta readers and an editor to focus on. Though ideally I would want to submit all three stories at once, it is just too expensive. Besides, why pay for all three when feedback for the first one can guide me to better writing in the subsequent novels?