Wednesday Edits – On Read-Throughs

Posted on March 17, 2010. Filed under: Editing, My Writing, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , |

It’s time for your favorite and mine: Wednesday edits.

Wednesday Edits is a series of posts for those aspiring authors who wish to share their tips and tricks of the self-editing trade. I invite anyone who wants to pick up the series on their own blogs to snag the button and link back to this page. In addition, please let me know by commenting on this blog if you pick up the button for use, and provide a link to the specific post.

I’ll put a list of rules up later. For now, the gist is simple: on Wednesdays, you will be writing about editing. Post stories, tips, and other editing-themed items, and let the rest of the world read your thoughts on self-editing–anything from novels to school essays.

Moving right along, then – here is my bit to contribute for today.

Editing a novel is slow, tedious work. I’m finding that out now, and it’s one of the more interesting things I’ve discovered. I’m not even halfway through the first read-through and basic edit, and I don’t know when I’ll get there. But I am trying.

So far I’ve learned that my editing technique is pretty simple.

1. Read the chapter.

2. Use Scrivener’s annotation function to annotate red-pen notes to myself about continuity or excessive scenes/paragraphs that need rewriting and fixing in later drafts.

3. Catch grammatical errors, misspellings, and unclear sentences during the read-through. Fix those as I go.

Pretty simple, eh? It sounds easy enough, and it’s been a delight to reread my writing since it’s been such a long time since I wrote those first chapters. I’d forgotten a lot of what I wrote, and rereading is always good for me.

So I have a question for you: do you tend to hate what you wrote when you reread it? Or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum – do you love your writing? I’m curious because most of what I’ve read in the NaNoWriMo forums talks about hating the editing process mainly because the authors dislike their writing.

Personally I’m enjoying every minute of my reread. Even the parts that need editing are a delight because I get to pick and choose what would work better, how to rework the sentences, and what should be rewritten in its place. At the same time, though, I honestly hate to edit my writing this way.

I may be the most biased self-editor ever. I love my writing to death and hate changing any of it, unless of course it’s a misplaced word or grammatical error. But shortening, tightening, losing some of the verbiage? That’s akin to blasphemy.

So to conclude this little ditty, I have one piece of advice.

Editing Tip # 707: If you’re editing something a bit smaller than a novel-sized work, consider using this tip from my old high school English teacher: Instead of reading over your work from beginning to end, start at the end and read up to the beginning. This keeps you from reading what you meant to write instead of what you did write by forcing you to read it differently. It works well in two ways.

First, it allows you to catch grammatical errors from sentence to sentence. Second, it helps you make everything cohesive. If the last sentence and the sentence above it don’t allow for clarity and understanding, you might want to work on rewriting.

I’ve used this technique especially well on college essays. It helps me catch problem areas every time. I haven’t tried it on my novel. If I do, I’ll wait till after I do the rewrites and do a scene at a time. It might drive me batty, but I’ll see if it works.

That’s my tip for the day. You can take it or leave it, but it’s a fun one to do in practice. Have you ever tried reading one of your college essays from end to beginning?


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