Friday, January 21, 2011

My Writing Process – Part 2

In my previous post I showed you how I began the writing process. I covered the idea and the first draft. Today I will finish the series inspired by Shallee’s recent Blogfest and describe my finishing stages of writing a novel.

How do I edit?
8. Chocolate. This is the stage where I eat the most chocolate because this is the stage where I begin to question everything – even my abilities as a writer.
9. The first pass. When I edit I first try to pay attention to the foundation of the story: the overall structure, where the chapters should end, the plausibility of the story, the hook in the beginning and satisfying end. This means a return to the whiteboard so I can see the big picture.
10. The second pass. I go on a search-and-destroy mission for any unwanted scenes. I look at pacing and the overall flow. I increase tension. I do the long awaited research needed for particular detailing in the story. For example, in my current WIP I will likely need to research the production process of certain types of cloth.
11. The third pass. I do line editing. This pass will often include many minor passes where I’m looking for particular details. For example, one pass will include a focussed search for those dreaded adverbs and passive sentences. If I look for too many different things at the same time, I’ll miss some or the task becomes too overwhelming. Basically, I tidy and polish.
12. The Break. This is a good time to take another break.
13. The fourth pass. I’m looking for anything I may have missed.

What do I do when I think my book is finished?
14. Critique partners. I will send out my manuscript (ms) to my critique partners. Sometimes they may get the ms early - after the first or second pass of editing.
15. I will edit again.
16. Beta readers. I will send out my manuscript to my beta readers and get their opinions. My beta readers include non-writers. Tip: because I write YA, I’ve found some teens to be my beta readers as well.
17. I will read through and edit again.
18. I will take another break. Since first impressions count so much, it’s worth taking yet another break from the ms before sending it out to the publishers/agents.
19. I will read through and edit again.
20. I will begin querying. There is no point querying until I am certain the novel is ready.

How do you approach the editing process?


  1. I'm much the same, except substitute twizzlers for chocolate.

  2. ah, the editors must be some fat people if they all attack chocolate during the battle :)

  3. Demitria, I'm not even sure what a twizzler is. I'm assuming it's a sugar delivery system ;)

    Dezzy, I go on lots of walks too. Thought I'd better add that ;)

  4. My goodness you read it a lot! I think that's where I have failed in the past. I end with too quickly. Not this time though. I am going over and over and over it until I know it word by word!

  5. Are there no twizzlers in Australia! I was there for a few months last year and didn't's strawberry flavored liquorice.

  6. Terri, it never ceases to amaze me how after each time I think I'm finished, I read through it and realise I'm not. So often I hear myself saying, "HOW did I miss that!?"

    Demitria, Aaaah. So I was right: a sugar delivery system ;) hehehe.

  7. No, Hot Tamales!
    I do a lot of line editing and sentence structure on the first couple passes. Even though I'll end up changing a lot of things on a larger scale, it's not a waste because otherwise it wouldn't read smooth enough for me to understand what the heck I was trying to say!

  8. Alex, yep, If I'm unsure about a scene, I'll fix it up to see if it still works. It will often help me decide to either keep or toss.

  9. I love your stages of how you edit!! It's amazing thorough - great stuff!

    I tend to stick to one chapter and do not leave it until I and any other reader I am able to grab and force to read it - are happy! LOL!! Then on to the next chapter. With the chocolate! :-)

    Take care

  10. Old Kitty, yep, chocolate is essential ;)

  11. That's quite a process, but certainly a good one. I desperately tried to have reliable beta readers, but it always became "I don't have enough time to read this" since they themselves were not writers. They had no understanding for the process and I found it incredibly difficult to work with them. I leave it all up to my critiquers who actually care and understand what needs to be done. Good list to get it all accomplished!

  12. This is where I sit with my novel right now. Actually I'm still letting it steep while I dig out my all-or-nothing editing cap. Thanks for the post, perfect timing. I need all the insight I can get on how to effectively tackle revising and editing.

  13. Thanks for sharing your revision process! I always have to do multiple passes, too, and then my crit partners STILL find things to fix. :) So I keep hacking away.

  14. Ha ha. I like the chocolate part. I'm learning something new every day about editing and revising :)

  15. I have no one way to edit. I do it as it feels right to me. It involves a lot of running and boxing in between to clear my head :)

  16. Mary Mary, with my beta readers I'm not after insightful, indepth observations. I just need initial reactions. I also give them a brief set of questions. eg when did you put the book down?

    Lindz, yay for the timing. I wish you all the very best for your revising.

  17. Shallee, yep, it's amazing what I can miss.

    LasVegas, I don't think a writer ever stops learning.

    Tabitha, hehe I like your chocolate alternative. Sounds a lot healthier ;)

  18. This is pretty much my process too, only I tend to take breaks between every draft.

    And ditto on the chocolate!

  19. Very similar to your style. I use many passes and I use beta readers too. Family and close friends.

  20. Wow, you are so thorough! That's great. I don't need chocolate (if you can believe that) but I work similarly. Except I have to fight NOT to do line editing too early, before I've looked at the bigger picture. That's great you have teens to look at your work--very helpful!

  21. This is the part of the process where I fall apart the most. When I finish the first draft I just want to move on. I tend to try to edit as I go and don't want to go back to change anything, but when I do go back I find that thinking to be wrong.

    Tossing It Out

  22. I follow a very similar process, but usually not the chocolate. It sounds so simple reading it as you wrote it.

  23. Jennifer, a break is always a good thing! :)

    Stephen, family and close friends make handy beta readers -- as long as they are honest and as long as you have true crit partners as well (ones with a knowledge of the craft and the industry)

    Carol, oh absolutely, I have to stop myself from doing those line-edits sometimes.

  24. Arlee, yep, I can relate. I have all these new stories fighting to have their turn, but they have to wait until I've finished editing. I think the editing/revision stage is the hardest of all.

    M Pax, yeah, I know, but it isn't so simple. I just find it's easier if it's methodical.

  25. Editing is the hard part.

    My passes are similar to yours, I think, only I write short pieces, so they are much simpler.

  26. I think your first part (your own editing before beta-ing) sounds a lot like mine. I Just haven't got around to the critiquing part properly yet. Well, except with a few beginning passages. which are pretty important of course! :)

  27. This sounds very similar to my process... especially the part with the chocolate. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Gummy bears are my downfall during the editing stage :-(

    I also use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard to give me 'fresh eyes' on my manuscript. It's great at finding the problems I've missed.

  29. It's always interesting to me to see the editing process of other writers. I like your first step - chocolate. Makes perfect sense to me.


  30. It all sounds mega organised and confident. I think my writing at the moment is more like waves and tides. In and out washing over me and then disappearing for a bit. I am hoping that when my mood improves (once my current stresses go) so will my writing schedule otherwise I'll have no excuses LOL! :O)

  31. Thanks for sharing these two posts. I love reading how different authors go about their trade. I like to imagine that I will be there one day!

  32. With all the reading necessary to get a manuscript in shape, it's no wonder we get sick of even thinking about it after a while.

    Like you, I read for different things. If I try to cover too many areas at once, I forget some of what I'm supposed to be doing.

  33. I'm a week late, but catching up on this blogfest now after I finally put my own entry up =)

    Love this, because I'm working my way through the last bits of revision now. Though for me - currently - it's lattes helping me through it! ;-)

    Love your blog, following!

  34. First up, apologies for the slow response. I will get to everyone's blog as soon as I can :)

    Damyanti, I agree, editing is difficult.

    Trisha, critiquing is so important. I'm always amazed at how much I miss.

    Amie, chocolate is the food of the writer :)

    Janine, oh I love gummy bears too!

    Jai, hmmm...chocolate. Could there be any doubt? ;)

  35. Madeleine, I'm not so sure..Us writers have a knack for finding excuses ;)

    Wendy, Just keep writing and you will :)

    J L Campbell, I think that's why we need regular breaks through the process.

    Marieke, welcome! I'll pop on over and check out your entry :)


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