The problem is lack of time. Sharing our writing time with family, work, reading, networking, and maybe clean our house and do laundry on occasion, takes time... and lots of it.
We get so close to our work we can't see our own mistakes, and we rush. We may make that commitment to edit slowly and read aloud, but far to often we send our novels into the world too soon.
The great idea to separate, and set our work aside for a month, is fabulous... but then what? How do we edit after that much needed separation, as efficiently as possible, with minimal mistakes, and an openness to see if the "story" and all the details work?
I know! And am in this process with a fabulous young lady, Christine Hollingsworth. Christine is a college student who had been majoring in literature, but shifted from a career as an editor to that of a pilot. She's incredibly talented. While Christine and I are working together, this is an editing process that anyone can do by themselves.
Find 4 colored pens and follow these steps:
- Read the entire novel for "story" only. Use your Blue pen to write comments on your feelings of your story, positive and negative, in the margin.
- Read your story a second time with your green, red, and purple pens in hand, and mark punctuation, spelling, and write editor thoughts.
- Start at chapter one, and input all corrections... carefully think how to address the negative feelings of the reader, and how to fix your editor comments.
- Then read that chapter slowly, and aloud, to see if everything works.
- Go to chapter two, and continue with steps three and four.
Flexibility: Of course you can't help to mark the spelling and punctuation that pops out on the first read. Keep your red and green pens handy. But don't focus on looking for that stuff. The first read through is for "story" only. Color of pens? Go wild.
Christine is currently doing steps 1-2, for me. I'm doing steps 3-5. This process is the most efficient way I've found to work on my novel since I began writing. I will use this process with every future novel I write. And I can do it myself... and will. But then I'm giving it to Christine, again. She's awesome! And go through steps 3-5 a second time.
Do you have a process that works? We would love for you to share it with us.