The Editing Process

Slowly but surely I’m switching off the writing brain cells and switching on the editing ones, which means that slowly but surely the editing process is becoming easier. I’ve had a few people ask about my editing process, so, if you’re interested, I’m going to run through it step-by-step. 

1. The complete read through

At this stage I’ve had at least a few months breathing space after finishing the first draft and I do a complete read through. Usually I do this on my Kindle but now that I’m on a Windows 8 computer I can’t work out how to do my Kindle conversions anymore (if you know how to do this please let me know), so for my latest novel, The Utopians, this was on my computer. While I read I make notes on anything that stands out to me – consistency, plot, anything that doesn’t make sense, repetition etc..

2. The sentence-by-sentence edit

This is the tough one (and the one I’m in the middle of now with The Utopians), where I read through every sentence at least 2-3 times to make sure it sounds right. I remove redundant words (‘that’ seems to be the most common one getting culled), I improve the cadence of my sentences, I also correct anything I noticed in the first read-through.

3. The character edit

For this one in the past I have rearranged the chapters of my novel based upon POV character, and will probably repeat this again with The Utopians. The character edit is all about getting the voice of each of my characters to be distinct, they each have particular phrases and words that they use. Despite the fact that my novel is 3rd person I want each character to be identifiable by the language and tone they use.

4. The out-loud read

In the past I have relied on doing this myself, but it doesn’t work all that well as I tend to read over my mistakes. This time round I’m planning on using my Kindle (ahh!!! see above) to read-it aloud to me, which allows me to do basic line editing.

After that it will be off to my delightful alpha readers (read – loving family members) who will tell me which bits don’t work so I can fix them up and get it ready for the beta-reading process.

Now onto my ROW80 goals:

Goal 2: once goal #1 is achieved switch to editing mode on the apocalyptic YA novel, The Utopians, aiming to edit ~5 pages half a chapter a day.

I hit a bit of a lull this week only managing to get through 3 chapters. I had mountains of marking for the other (read – paid) job. But the Autumn session at the University is almost over so in another week and a bit I am unemployed again until Spring session begins and will be concentrating on getting this novel finished. But some good news, I did break through the half-way point of the novel this week, the 50% plot-point line has been crossed and I am climbing to the 75% mark.

Goal 3: keep up with my aim to read 50 books this year.

Nought, zero, zilch. Busy. Week.

Do you have a regimented editing process like I do (the scientist in me fights her way to the surface every once in a while) or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-editing-pants kind of editor? Do you know of any programs to convert to Kindle format that are compatible with Windows 8 (please, please, please)?

 As always I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller

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9 responses to “The Editing Process

  1. I follow a similar process for editing, but I do my character edits in a different order. I do the read through and take notes (usually throwing up my hands in frustration at some points), and then I do a character/content edit – changing some elements of the plot or characterization, then I read it through again. Then I use the “find” button in word to find and replace words like ‘that” and “look.” Then I send it off to my lovely family members who alpha/beta/proofread for me – some look for grammar and awkwardness, and some look for content errors. While they are reading it (some out loud), I read it out loud. I fix all those errors and use the “find” search again to make sure that I’ve caught a few more of my common typos. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it.

    • I had a fairly thorough outline for the current novel so fortunately there haven’t been too many ‘throw the hands in the air’ moments. Thanks for the comment xo.

  2. Very interesting to read about your process. I usually do a complete revision before having anyone beta (or alpha) a novel, but that’s because my first drafts are terrible and confusing. I’m pretty methodical in my editing, though.

    As for as Kindle conversion goes…I used to use a program called Mobipocket Creator. There are formatting issues, but if you’re just looking to get a quick and dirty MOBI to load onto your Kindle, that could work (and it’s free!). I also use Send to Kindle which supposedly converts anything (.DOC, .PDF, etc) before it uploads it to your Kindle. Hope these help.

  3. The revision process I’m following at the moment is Susan Dennard’s guide to revisions which you can find on this page if you scroll down a bit: http://susandennard.com/links/for-writers/

    With her process, the revision starts with the large scale issues (plot, character, setting, pacing etc.) and works its way down to the small scale issues like line edits, typos, etc. and I like that. 🙂

    You were looking for software to create mobi file formats. Calibre is a ebook creation software that can also convert to different file formats and it’s compatible with Windows 8. I haven’t used it myself, but I have downloaded it and looked at it. There appears to be a bit of a learning curve with it, but it’s one option.

    All the best with your revision. 🙂

  4. Quite the editing process you’ve set for yourself, Jody. Love the details you’ve developed and the steps you take. I ‘m not nearly as organized as that, though I do follow a multi-step editing process as well.

    Though… wanna share your secret on switching out writer’s brain for editor’s brain? 😀

    • Sadly there was no secret, Eden. I really struggled at first, but now a few weeks in I seem to have finally flicked the switch. Only one problem with that though, I just realised I need to add in another 3 chapters and I don’t seem to be able to switch my brain back to writing mode 🙂

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