Carolyn M. Walker

Old Blog of Carolyn M. Walker

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Battling Editing Woes: Techniques that Work

Editing Techniques with Carolyn M WalkerEditing my novel has not been an easy feat. On several occasions, I have found myself running into little "road blocks," preventing me from moving forward in the story, the way I want it to. It doesn't help that I'm a nitpicker of my own work either.

If I see something out of sorts, I change it on the spot, but then I begin to look at other areas and before I know it, I'm rewriting an entire page that probably didn't even need it! Of course every writer has their own ways of doing things. The key is finding what works best for you...with a few useful pointers sprinkled in.

I find it interesting how some of my favorite authors approach the editing of their own work. Nora Roberts likes to flesh out a skinny rough draft, start to finish, and then once it’s complete (and only then) will she go back and “fill in” the gaps. After that she polishes it over with fine tweaks before sending it to her editor. Dean Koontz absolutely CANNOT move forward to the next page of his rough manuscripts until it is edited to his own standard of personal perfection. Toni Morrison once said that if she had the chance to go back, she would probably rewrite most all of her work!

I decided to implement a "regimen" that focused on bettering my work instead of getting lost in the little details. So, this brings me to my case in point: what are some useful techniques during the development and editing process that can help you combat those roadblocks that sometimes get in the way? Read on and see.

Developmental Planning

You have an amazing idea but then it gets complicated. How can you convey the idea when you can't even get it down on paper right? When the words coming out just don't match the vision that lives in your mind, you need to take time and do some further developmental planning.

Step back and take a look at your project as a whole.

Ask yourself:
  • What do you want to convey?
  • What is the moral or message?
  • How do you want your reader to feel?
  • Who is your true audience?

Discovering this early on will help you bring everything together in the end. It will also help to prevent you from drilling ahead unprepared and wasting time having to go back and fix an incomplete idea later on. Otherwise you will always feel like "something is missing" from your writing that you can't quite put your finger on (I learned this one the hard way). Of course, nothing has to be in stone but developing a solid foundation and asserting some concrete elements early on will help you shape the rest of your story as you go.

Structural Editing

You've nailed down the foundation, but now all of it has to flow together in a coherent and meaningful way. You also need to engage your reader by sparking (and keeping) their interest. I believe this is the trickiest part for an author because you have to think about your work from multiple angles and be prepared to explain them if need be.

It sounds funny, but you need to become an expert on your own work. Readers aren't fools and they expect to be entertained. Focus on keeping your story in line with the 3 C's: Clarity, Conciseness and Credibility. And make sure to do this without being too obvious. Again your reader's aren't fools. The easiest way to manage this is to be ever mindful of the plot and how the basic elements of your story tie into it (i.e. setting, characters, etc.).

Ask yourself:
  • Does this make sense?
  • Is this plausible?
  • It this in character?
If there's any doubts, make the necessary changes to correct it.

Stylistic Editing

This is where you focus on your voice and tone as the author. Look for the superfluous, such as wordiness, unnecessary jargon, rants, dry exposition, passive tones, and digression. Here is your chance to really focus on your audience using your distinct voice. Think of it as that unspoken connection between you and your reader.

Armed with these tips, it should make the editing process a bit easier for you as you work toward getting your work out there. And a little luck also helps too! 

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