Friday, September 13, 2013

The Editing Process!

I thought I would write a post about my editing process, since I've been learning as I go along and perhaps someone else will benefit from what I've found works - and what doesn't.

I have done all my formatting and finishing in Scrivener. Earlier in the writing process, I used Microsoft Word exclusively, but I have moved on from that after a long relationship. I found that software to be too clunky when it came to compiling a Kindle book. Scrivener also gave me a ton of tools that I use on paper and was able to utilize once my writing was formatted digitally.

Once I was finished my first draft I printed out the most basic, single-spaced version of the chapters I could get. This decision was mostly for monetary reasons since printing 200+ pages was more of an investment than I could handle at the time and keeping everything single-spaced cut the number of pages in half. In the end I had 132 single-spaced pages printed, and that's my entire first draft. For an idea on the word count, it was roughly 55,000 words long.

I am very old-fashioned when it comes to my writing and editing process. Usually I write a lot of the manuscript by hand and then type it out afterwards. I also work out of order and jump around from scene to scene as I feel compelled, so it was a big accomplishment to have a manuscript that was in one piece! For my editing, I used the printed document to scratch out sentences or paragraphs that didn't make sense or needed to be re-worded, and I wrote the adjustments in pen in the margins or in between the lines (I can write very tiny when I want to!).

I found that if I started from the first page and tried to make my way to the last one, my mind got very tired very quickly. I'm not sure if it was because I already knew the story and had read it twice, or if it was just my brain looking at the number of pages left to go through - but, I realized that this wouldn't work for me in the long run. So, I ended up jumping around from page to page - much the same as I did when I wrote the scenes. I got rid of the shortest pages first so that I looked like I was going faster than normal, and then tackled the larger pages with lots of description last. I made sure that every page was scribbled on before I moved on to the Scrivener document for finalizing the changes.

Here's the fun part in Scrivener. There are nifty drop-down tabs in the inspector of your document that you have total control over. I added a bunch of different descriptions like "First Draft," "Second Draft," "Final Draft." As I update the text, deleting the bad sentences and typing the revisions, I update the drop-down tab. This is a great way to keep track of what I have revised and what is still left to do.

I also go back on my printed document and add a check mark to the top right corner of the page after I add the changes to the Scrivener document. This way I can keep track physically of what I have left to add to the Scrivener document as far as revisions.

The entire editing process took me about three months - from handwriting the changes, to adding those changes to Scrivener. That doesn't include the time it took for my beta readers to look at the .mobi file I gave them and give me feedback. I consider that third draft the "final" draft after feedback from readers before publication.

It's a long process, but it's essential to having a polished piece to give to your beta readers. I want my writing to be as close to published as possible before it goes in front of other people's eyes. I am a very self-conscious writer when it comes to my fiction!

Hopefully this was useful as you plan your own editing process for your masterpiece in progress!