Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Editing. What's Your Strategy?

I'm thigh-deep in the muck of editing my WIP at the moment, after getting some valuable feedback from a beta reader. I have quite a few changes to make.

Being ever the organized, spreadsheet-and-list-oriented person, I have an Excel document entitled Edits To Make and I tick them off as the days go by. Fix dialogue on page 72? Check! Tie in detail in Chapter 4 to the end? Check! Making the checkmarks is gratifying and all, especially with a sparkly blue pen, but I'm wondering if there is a better way. 

This is the first time I've written anything this long, and editing this way feels piecemeal to me. Of course I'll give it another read-through (or 10), but I'm interested in how others tackle their edits.

So? Lay it on me.

14 comments:

Melanie Avila said...

Sparkly blue pens, LOL. I've yet to get feedback beyond chapter 5 or 6, but for those, I've taken the edits chapter by chapter.

As for overall reorganization, like tying something in Ch 4 to the end, I think if spreadsheets work for you, you shouldn't try to force something else. Trying to learn a new system WHILE editing seems like more work than it's worth. IMO, of course.

Janna Qualman said...

I guess if there was a crucial detail I wanted not to forget, I wrote it down, for reference when I got to whatever part. But for the most part, I've been able to keep it all in my memory files, ready to pull out at a moment's notice. (I'm definitely NOT a spreadsheet kind of gal. I had enough of those in my acct exec days.) I sure don't know how, but it all came together with no flubs.

WendyCinNYC said...

Melanie--I'm not sure I COULD incorporate a new system at this point, even if I wanted to. But it's always interesting to hear how other people organize their edits. Maybe I can use a few tips next time.

Janna--I'm impressed by your brainpower. If I don't write something down the very moment it occurs to me, ::zip:: it's gone. In addition to my 18 items on my Edits to Make list, I have a house full of yellow post-its with random thoughts. My husband sometimes finds them and looks very confused. One said "Bad associations with sex." I hope he knew that wasn't for him!

colbymarshall said...

I make notes on my manuscript as I reread it, and I then I will go back and fix them as I go. I've never made a spreadsheet, but I hav a feeling after hearing you mention it...it might happen! HAHA!

Melody said...

Wow, Wendy, that really is organized.

I read my work out loud. If it sounds awkward when I say it, it probably needs a tweak.

As for plot points and grammar errors, I just keep re-reading the thing until I like it and it feels done.

It's not easy, but it's the only way that seems to work for me.

Melody Platz

>The Writer’s Comfy Corner

WendyCinNYC said...

Just to be clear, I don't put grammatical edits on my spreadsheet. Most of them are things that need to be re-worked for one reason or another.

Now you all think I'm some sort of spreadsheet freak.

And I'm not.

Really.

Only a little.

Melanie Avila said...

OMG, Wendy, that sex note is hilarious!

Janna Qualman said...

It's okay, Wendy. We all know you're a spreadsheetin' freak of nature. ;)

I agree with Melanie - the post-it note thing is hilarious! Poor guy...

livininsanity said...

Ah, you're an organized editor. But, if you're looking for something easier, perhaps you'll like my strategy. I give the manuscript and a marker to a dog and let the dog decide what needs fixing. I find most dogs are quite honest in this regard, plus it saves me tons of time. :)

WendyCinNYC said...

Livininsanity--
Do you have a smart dog I could borrow? Mine is way too stupid. If you ever need your manuscript eaten, however, he's the one to call.

aaroncrocco said...

My editing process involves many tools. First, I'll use virtual sticky notes / comments inserted into my document. I'll also print out charactar cards and fill those out. Finally, I'll use a checklist separated into many catigories to give me all the points I need to hit.

Bottom line, you need lots of time, organization and patience.

WendyCinNYC said...

Aaron--I can see we share some similar traits, at least when it comes to organizing thoughts.

My brain is too full of useless trivia to add the details of a whole novel to it.

auria cortes said...

My writing style involves crying. Lots of crying.

auria cortes said...

I meant editing style...