I have so many editing questions.

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AnnieSummerlee

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(actually just a few)
Hi everyone.
So, a few weeks ago I finished my wee sci-fi book, and I’ve been letting it rest because I know starting revisions right away is a bad idea. I also sent it into a mentoring contest (after some small edits, because why not) and I’ll hear back from that on the 14th...but the last few days I’ve been wondering what my next step should be. I have a few ideas of things that are missing/need to be improved, so I’ll work on those now, but once that is done, should I...
1) print it and do a proper ‘edit’ (this is what I’ve done with previous manuscripts), then send it to beta readers
2) readers first, print later? I’m thinking this might be the better option because I’ll probably have to do bigger changes after getting feedback, and it will save me the cost of printing it twice...
I’m also very curious as to everyone’s editing/revision processes.
Ta
Annie
 
It depends how much might need to change.
If, after the first draft is finished [this is a five-stage editing process on its own and after the story has a beginning, middle and end fully written out - character arc, story arc, sub-arcs/plots, tension/conflict/obstacles, setting], I don't feel that the story ramps up well enough, I'll do an overall progression edit, something like a developmental edit that focuses on who does what when and how big the effect is on the story, the main character, and the changes in tactics and directions. If this doesn't feel right, no amount of editing to 'fix' stuff is going to make the story feel strong.
If that's all done, the edit I like most is the one where I get the computer to read it to me, in a voice I don't like, so it's easy to pick up where things don't flow right, don't make sense based on what's around that part, etc. It makes a difference to hear it rather than read it. Words make music and can compel through that rhythmic section.
If that's good, too, I turn the mss into an eBook and read it on an eReader. This makes it easier to see where things are out of place, little errors, the proofreading stage - or the moment I realise I missed a whole turning point!
After all that, it goes to beta readers, and I don't touch it again until I get most of the comments back.

So, where is this one at?
 
For me, and this is of course not universal, it's all about fresh eyes. I have to be away from the project long enough that I'm no longer in love with my cute phrasing, characters nuances, plot gymnastics etc that might not work, at all, if viewed from dispassionate eyes.
I get to your phase, a typo edit, and then send it out to readers I trust, as much because of the enforced time away from the project that requires as the need for feedback (which is also needed, because I'm needy).
The news editing process is instructive in this. It's set up to shorten the writing process, but in so acknowledges what that process is.
The way that works, you produce your draft, and give it a typo, fact check edit, then hand it to a general editor, who has been promoted (you hope) from the ranks of reporter because they write well. they will look for holes and inconsistancies, as well as poor phrasing whether or not the whole thing is crap. these are, essentially, beta readers. meaning that the piece returns needing your attention to either a lot or a little but always something. After these fixes, you return it to your editor.
If satisfied, they pass it on to a copy editor, who does an edit for fact-check, poor grammar, spelling and libel, and passes the piece along to what we called the slot chief, because they used to sit in a slot between banks of copy editors on either side. They will give it a fresh eyes read for quality and worthiness, also looking for details but really looking for bang, and decide where they think the piece should go, then send it on to a page editor, who will give it a read and look for both issues that might bring in the lawyers, and worthiness, then set it on the page.
On the page, it's looked at a final time by a senior, usually asst managing but sometimes managing or executive, editor, unless it's a big deal then it's the Editor, full stop, and maybe the publisher and definitely a law firm or two.
The primary difference between what we're doing here and what I did there is time. I've had that process completed, from writing the first word to placed on a page for the presses, take as little as 15 minutes (that's when you have half a dozen people over your shoulder shouting edits and suggestions while you type, the movie scene version of a newsroom. It does happen, but not most days) and as much as three weeks.
The process, however, is the same, and the point is always the same: Get as many fresh eyes as you can on the piece in the editing process. In an ideal world, a world of fiction (my friends who write long form narrative non-fiction books indicate their system is pretty similar to the newsroom, just with more time built in), those eyes mostly or even entirely, belong to you. But for that, you need time away to come back with a clear mind, fresh eyes.
 
It depends how much might need to change.
If, after the first draft is finished [this is a five-stage editing process on its own and after the story has a beginning, middle and end fully written out - character arc, story arc, sub-arcs/plots, tension/conflict/obstacles, setting], I don't feel that the story ramps up well enough, I'll do an overall progression edit, something like a developmental edit that focuses on who does what when and how big the effect is on the story, the main character, and the changes in tactics and directions. If this doesn't feel right, no amount of editing to 'fix' stuff is going to make the story feel strong.
If that's all done, the edit I like most is the one where I get the computer to read it to me, in a voice I don't like, so it's easy to pick up where things don't flow right, don't make sense based on what's around that part, etc. It makes a difference to hear it rather than read it. Words make music and can compel through that rhythmic section.
If that's good, too, I turn the mss into an eBook and read it on an eReader. This makes it easier to see where things are out of place, little errors, the proofreading stage - or the moment I realise I missed a whole turning point!
After all that, it goes to beta readers, and I don't touch it again until I get most of the comments back.

So, where is this one at?
I've done a few rounds of revisions, and I've got a small developmental edit in the works, mainly adding scenes, taking out things, stuff that I've figured out on my own. The only thing I'm worried about is if I wait too long to send it to readers, they might suggest changes that will lead to a massive rewrite, and then maybe by then I've already wasted a lot of time...I guess it depends. I like your ereader idea, I did that once but got the formatting all wrong, so it was a bit of a mess. I'll have to try again!
 
For me, and this is of course not universal, it's all about fresh eyes. I have to be away from the project long enough that I'm no longer in love with my cute phrasing, characters nuances, plot gymnastics etc that might not work, at all, if viewed from dispassionate eyes.
I get to your phase, a typo edit, and then send it out to readers I trust, as much because of the enforced time away from the project that requires as the need for feedback (which is also needed, because I'm needy).
The news editing process is instructive in this. It's set up to shorten the writing process, but in so acknowledges what that process is.
The way that works, you produce your draft, and give it a typo, fact check edit, then hand it to a general editor, who has been promoted (you hope) from the ranks of reporter because they write well. they will look for holes and inconsistancies, as well as poor phrasing whether or not the whole thing is crap. these are, essentially, beta readers. meaning that the piece returns needing your attention to either a lot or a little but always something. After these fixes, you return it to your editor.
If satisfied, they pass it on to a copy editor, who does an edit for fact-check, poor grammar, spelling and libel, and passes the piece along to what we called the slot chief, because they used to sit in a slot between banks of copy editors on either side. They will give it a fresh eyes read for quality and worthiness, also looking for details but really looking for bang, and decide where they think the piece should go, then send it on to a page editor, who will give it a read and look for both issues that might bring in the lawyers, and worthiness, then set it on the page.
On the page, it's looked at a final time by a senior, usually asst managing but sometimes managing or executive, editor, unless it's a big deal then it's the Editor, full stop, and maybe the publisher and definitely a law firm or two.
The primary difference between what we're doing here and what I did there is time. I've had that process completed, from writing the first word to placed on a page for the presses, take as little as 15 minutes (that's when you have half a dozen people over your shoulder shouting edits and suggestions while you type, the movie scene version of a newsroom. It does happen, but not most days) and as much as three weeks.
The process, however, is the same, and the point is always the same: Get as many fresh eyes as you can on the piece in the editing process. In an ideal world, a world of fiction (my friends who write long form narrative non-fiction books indicate their system is pretty similar to the newsroom, just with more time built in), those eyes mostly or even entirely, belong to you. But for that, you need time away to come back with a clear mind, fresh eyes.
that's super interesting. Do you find writing fiction easier/harder, or just a completely different experience?
 
that's super interesting. Do you find writing fiction easier/harder, or just a completely different experience?
Today? Today, fiction writing is impossible. i mean, i am down to the last 500 words or so of revision before I'm done with a project, and i'm checking back here and leaving comments. This is where news writing hurts the current process. I really want to say close enough and pass this on to a good editor and be done with it, and i find it really sucks that that editor has to be me. I'm dwelling in Ishouldbedoneland. It is not a good place to visit, horrible place to live. One difference, no one is over my shoulder screaming that I'm not over-paid to sit on my ass and be an f'ing poet, so could i please just finish. I miss that guy.
So, the answer: Fiction writing is easier and harder, and the same and completely different. Most days it's less stressful, and it's always better.
Also, the bad days of news reporting, when I'm alone and curled into a fetal ball on the dirty floor of a crap hotel in a crappy war and I can't stop sobbing about the truly horrific things we see in the non-fiction world, you have to take those days out of any equation, because if you leave them in, there is no comparison.
 
I've done a few rounds of revisions, and I've got a small developmental edit in the works, mainly adding scenes, taking out things, stuff that I've figured out on my own. The only thing I'm worried about is if I wait too long to send it to readers, they might suggest changes that will lead to a massive rewrite, and then maybe by then I've already wasted a lot of time...I guess it depends. I like your ereader idea, I did that once but got the formatting all wrong, so it was a bit of a mess. I'll have to try again!
If you're expecting betas might suggest massive rewrites, it would be worth giving the development of your story one more check (after leaving it for at least a month). Niggles of doubt are usually well-founded. I would tend to send what I hope is a pretty finished product. They might still suggest massive rewrites, but I want to be at the point where that would shock me. Then I would leave it again and let the subconscious brain mull over any comments before rationally deciding whether to act on the comments or not. That's just me. Everyone has their own way. But remember, when you do send it out, it's your story, not someone else's idea of what your story should be. When you get comments about changes, always listen to your gut.
 
If you're expecting betas might suggest massive rewrites, it would be worth giving the development of your story one more check (after leaving it for at least a month). Niggles of doubt are usually well-founded. I would tend to send what I hope is a pretty finished product. They might still suggest massive rewrites, but I want to be at the point where that would shock me. Then I would leave it again and let the subconscious brain mull over any comments before rationally deciding whether to act on the comments or not. That's just me. Everyone has their own way. But remember, when you do send it out, it's your story, not someone else's idea of what your story should be. When you get comments about changes, always listen to your gut.
I think you figured it out for me. I'm not expecting massive rewrites with the current draft (aside from the things I'm going to do before sending). That's a pretty good way to measure things! Thanks Hannah!
 
I'd consider trying to write your synopsis before sending it out to beta readers. If you don't know in your mind how you got from Key event A to key event B, it might be something that is missing in your story or it could be a bigger plot hole. I constantly ask myself, does that make sense? Would they really do that? I ended up adding a lot more meat to my story this way.. as well as trimming some fat ;).

And maybe you already do something like this - but I have the WORD program read it aloud - really fast - as I read along. Yes, it's monotone and creepy - but it works for me. If I try reading aloud myself, I can't get as much done in a session. I just focus better by limiting the audio review to listening vs listening and speaking. Tons of rearranged paragraphs and even whole chapters have happened when I do this.

Oh, and printing out does offer another way to view it too. Personally, I would hold off on that for a bit. I've done a couple of print outs too early when I thought I was this close to my final final final FINAL version - only to end up trashing them. Oh, and per my youngest daughter - a red pen is a must when editing this way.

Do you work in scrivener at all? It can provide a wonderful visual of chapters and scenes depending on how you color code things (I color code by POV).
 
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Checking the text using the computer audio is much better than reading for errors. If you prefer reading, do it out loud, so you read slower and catch word by word, rather than silent reading ahead and guessing the words. That way you pick up a lot more errors. Also, I find so many writers write in the past tense, or do too much explaining. Try and keep to the present as much as possible; makes the story more vibrant, and if you have to do an author-intervene to make something clearer to the reader, your structure's wrong.
 
As a general rule, I think betas after second draft, with the third draft expected to be the biggie in terms of editing.
 
Today? Today, fiction writing is impossible. i mean, i am down to the last 500 words or so of revision before I'm done with a project, and i'm checking back here and leaving comments. This is where news writing hurts the current process. I really want to say close enough and pass this on to a good editor and be done with it, and i find it really sucks that that editor has to be me. I'm dwelling in Ishouldbedoneland. It is not a good place to visit, horrible place to live. One difference, no one is over my shoulder screaming that I'm not over-paid to sit on my ass and be an f'ing poet, so could i please just finish. I miss that guy.
So, the answer: Fiction writing is easier and harder, and the same and completely different. Most days it's less stressful, and it's always better.
Also, the bad days of news reporting, when I'm alone and curled into a fetal ball on the dirty floor of a crap hotel in a crappy war and I can't stop sobbing about the truly horrific things we see in the non-fiction world, you have to take those days out of any equation, because if you leave them in, there is no comparison.
Journalists and cops are sin-eaters. They become too familiar with the worst of humanity. Coming from a law enforcement family going back 3 generations to great grandpa McConnaughhay who was sheriff after the Earps left. I think the writing of the future will need to be about what is good about humanity. To me that is Pratchett's secret. He brings back hope, despite the worst. I'm dueling with Russian acquaintances on FB now about whether or not Latvians and the rest of the former Soviet satellites really want to be invaded. Trying to be polite when really I want to soak their head in great grandpa's jakes,(outhouse for the uninitiated.)
 
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I've done a few rounds of revisions, and I've got a small developmental edit in the works, mainly adding scenes, taking out things, stuff that I've figured out on my own. The only thing I'm worried about is if I wait too long to send it to readers, they might suggest changes that will lead to a massive rewrite, and then maybe by then I've already wasted a lot of time...I guess it depends. I like your ereader idea, I did that once but got the formatting all wrong, so it was a bit of a mess. I'll have to try again!
This is why I'm not a fan of saying just write and then find the beginning later. For me the ending is fluid but I have to find the right beginning for the structure. If I find the right beginning point the rest follows. If I have to change the beginning then EVERYTHING has to change.
 
Thanks. I bailed after about 2 minutes of what seemed like wittering on.
Interesting hack to change the name of the writer on the script or format it differently to be able to see it as a reader instead of writer. Making Time for Right and Left Brain Writing by Cathy C. Hall gives a bit the science of how to get into the different editor, reader, writer mindsets. Also "The holy trinity of story: character, stakes and plot." "Readers don't care about what is happening until we know who it is happening to." Stakes-the character has to care about the stakes or the reader doesn't. What is the central story question and the tie with stakes. "ACTION IS NOT PLOT. PLOT IS NOT STORY." I feel this is something we see a lot on Popup Submissions. Central story question is what goes into the pitch. That is what readers want to know. Why they will pick up to read and continue reading. Start editing with structure: character, stakes, plot. Reading one of Pratchett's last books I was struck at how plain it was. The story was there but not the sparkling prose that we love. It made me realise that was his last edit process and he didn't have time to do it before he lost his capacity.
Momentum and pace, the difference. Momentum is how the story moves forward. Pace is the speed of the momentum. Niagara Falls and the Mississippi River have momentum but different pace. The shorter the sentences and sharper the words the faster the pace. There is a lot of good editor advice here-just skip to 18 minutes in until about 40 minutes for the hard candy.
 
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Thanks. I bailed after about 2 minutes of what seemed like wittering on.

Yes, it's a bit of drivel (which her interviews with people never used to be). It's interesting stuff about the business, but I wanted that interview too :) It's really priceless in some parts.
 
Yep, new wheels :) 90% okay too, that's pretty good. There's normally heaps wrong!
Ninety percent is sometimes as good as anything gets. I hope the son and husband have recovered too. Scary patch there. My husband absolutely refuses to get vaccinated. They say the majority of refusers are PHD's like himself. His immunity was honed in the streets of Karachi. I hope it holds
 
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