I have a love/hate relationship with editing. On one hand, it can turn a rough manuscript into a cohesive thing of beauty. But getting to that place… ugh!
During last year’s E blog entry, I wrote about some of the challenges I faced with my own manuscripts. However, every author is going to have different strengths and weaknesses. Not the same type of editing process is going to work as well for everyone.
Most of the time, I employ the method that the folks at NaNoWriMo advocate: finish the novel before you go back to edit a single word. When it comes to NaNo, the object is to write 50,000 words in a month, so there isn’t any time for editing. And because you’re writing at such a furious pace, some amazing things can come from your creativity when you’re not over-thinking things. The only problem I’ve found with this method is that my first draft is a chaotic mess!
|Every November, I silence my inner editor |
while I work on my NaNoWriMo project
I’ve heard of other authors who edit as they go. They begin each day by reading over what they’ve written the day before and cleaning it up. Only after editing, will they move on to writing new material. Using this method, you’ll end up with a neater first draft, though it’ll probably take longer to get there.
I’m giving this second method a try with my current manuscript. The biggest difference I can see so far is that I wouldn’t try the edit-as-you-go method unless you have a clear idea, maybe even an outline, of exactly where your story is going. Some major elements can change from the beginning of a book to the end if you don’t know where you’re going. This means a lot of editing for continuity will be necessary. So why bother giving each sentence, each paragraph, a quick polish as you go when you may end up deleting entire sections with a continuity edit? Granted, you’ll still do continuity editing with both editing styles, but there may be less of it if you’ve got a clear map of your story from day one.
So what kind of editing method do you use, fellow authors? If you’ve tried different methods, what works best for you and why?