A Writer’s Relationship with the Editing Process
By Nicole Delacroix, author of Sexual Confessional: Confidential Admissions From Social Media
Editing is a writer’s first step in looking at their work critically and making it better. Any good writer is going to use a trusted critique partner – other writers, critique groups, etc. – and if a writer is serious about their career, a professional editor. For the record, an editor should never be a close friend or family member: you want someone to challenge every word you wrote to help make it better. I like to use a critique group to take me to a place where I’m ready to have someone professional look at my work. There are two types of editing, and it helps to know the difference and why each is important: there is the line edit and the content edit.
A line edit is where you or an editor go line by line and fix any grammatical or structure errors. This type of edit catches typos, tense errors and errant verbiage – I am plagued by the word ‘that’ – I use it far too much and I’ve gotten myself into the habit of reading my work aloud both with and without it. If it sounds good without it, I remove it.
A content edit is where you or your editor will read the piece in its entirety and look for continuity errors. This edit focuses on the story itself, how to make it better, and suggestions of changes to how it’s written to ensure the story flows from one chapter to the next. Here’s where a good editor will challenge the story, and if you aren’t getting challenges and suggestions from your editor, then they aren’t doing their job. If you’re serious about being a writer, you have to listen to the harshest critic, and that should always be your editor. Many writers have different theories on when you do which edit, but I personally like a line edit after I’m finished, followed by a deep content edit, and topped off with a second line edit. But let’s look at some other ways writers edit.
Any writer will tell you that they edit the story as they write – it’s hard to turn off the internal editor. Internal editing is the most dangerous of the edits, a writer can get stuck within the internal edit and the book will never see the light of day. They constantly go back to what they’ve written and rewrite until they’ve lost focus on finishing. One of the most freeing experiences of my life was participating in NANOWRIMO – National Write a Book Month. For one month you are challenged to put 50000 words down on paper – no editing, just write. I try to limit myself to 1 chapter. That way I move forward and finish and I know there’s more editing to come.
Once the first draft is completed, it’s time to see what needs to be fixed. The problem with self-editing is that many writers focus on the little things and miss some major issues. My rule of thumb is when I finish; I put that manuscript away for at least a month. I work on something else, read, relax, whatever – but I forget about the book. This helps me see the writing with fresh eyes. I do a full read through without any notes, just to see where the problems are. After a day or two, it’s time for the second read through – this time with my trusty red pen. I like to print out my work so I can write corrections directly on the page. This second pass is just to fix any glaring problems, tone, character, etc., this is not to fix typos. Once I’ve made my list I go through and make the changes. Then I let it sit for a week and do a third pass, again, only looking for big problems. If I feel that everything looks right and the story flows, then I turn to a line edit. Depending on my availability, I may run through once myself or have a trusted colleague do the line edit.
The Rinse and Repeat
There is no hard, fast rule when it comes to editing. I like to line edit, content edit and line edit – but sometimes you just feel like you’ve missed something. That’s where you do a rinse and repeat. I’ve found it helpful in this situation to use more than one editor. This is where critique groups are so necessary. You have many different voices and everyone has their own style, using more than one person’s thoughts will make your writing that much better. All of this gets you ready for the professional edit. Sometimes the best thing for a manuscript is a multi-edit session. This gives the writer multiple opinions on how to progress their narrative and keeps the writing fresh.
The Professional Edit
Editorial letters are a shock to new writers. Many times, they’ve used friends and family to do editing and are surprised by the sheer number of different things that need changing when a professional gets a hold of the manuscript. It can be overwhelming, and then you have to read someone else’s critique of your work. No matter how polite the suggestions are, you will get your feelings hurt. So take the fuzzy slippers off and grab a glass of wine, there’s a way to deal with it all.
First, remember to breathe. Reading and writing is subjective and your first impulse is to be defensive. So read the letter once and put it away for a few days. This will give you time to process everything that was said and bring your defenses down. Then you have to make a plan. Some people color code changes, I like to jump in. I like to break it down by chapter. That way I only do one chapter at a time then I can run for the wine.
From here, you just start making changes. Work slowly but steadily – it will seem daunting, but so was writing a book. If there are major changes that happen throughout the book, it’s best to handle them on a case by case basis. Once you’ve made the changes, it’s time for a second opinion. It’s always best to edit twice, it makes everything clean and presentable and you don’t miss any typos.
How Will I Know When It’s Done?
Writers are a strange bunch. Once we dive into changes, we start tinkering around with a book and never finish. You have to stick to a guideline of what you want to accomplish. When you’ve made changes, read it through, if it sounds right, then move on to another project, but ultimately, your book isn’t done until the editor says it’s done!
About the Book
Author: Nicole Delacroix
Genre: Non-Fiction Humor / Essay
Discovering secrets is titillating.
Everyone wants to peek under the covers, be a fly on the bedroom wall, or read someone’s diary. The juicier the secret, the more people want to know it, and sex is the most taboo of all subjects.
It’s human nature to be curious about what everyone else is doing. What do people like about sex? What are their fantasies? How far are they willing to go to please the one they love? These questions and more are explored, where everyday people offer up their most intimate secrets about sex.
One part social experiment – one part personal journey mixed with a little shock value, a whole lot of confession, laugh-out-loud comedy, deceptively thought-provoking questions and answers, all in the name of self-awareness. A foray into the inappropriate Sexual Confessional is a brash, unfiltered look at sex in the new millennium as seen by social media. A cautionary tale that warns “be careful what you ask the internet for, you may just get it…”
Nicole Delacroix was raised with a deep love for words and literature. This appetite for reading was the foundation fuelling her creative passion for writing. With a strong will and precocious nature, she is the atypical Texan Southern belle, preferring the fantastical, science and reason. Growing up in the buckle of the Bible Belt, writing was her saving grace.
A fan of all genres, she will most often be found buried in fantasy, science fiction or nonfiction, favoring George RR Martin, Douglas Adams and Michio Kaku, while Joan Rivers, Mae West, Madonna and Audrey Hepburn are personal role-models, each possessing a strength she admires. Diversity extends to her writing as well, as she writes about anything that strikes her interest, with a keen eye for character and the absurd.
A blogger, author, and IT professional for a major ISP, she is consistently sought out to provide guest blogs and the oft-maligned tech manual, and receives many requests to review new works from fellow authors. She believes life is about possibilities, which challenges her to write outside her comfort zone, trying new projects and meeting new people.
Fiercely loyal to friends, family and pets, she is a proud member of the Atlanta Writer’s Club, avid Tweeter, and closet Anglophile with addictions to British Tea, Doctor Who and Soccer. Above all, she maintains sarcasm is a legitimate art form and strives to challenge conventional thinking.
Glimpse of Darkness, April 2014 – October 2014
Common Misconceptions About Literary Agents, January 21, 2015 Post Link
Guest Post: How Many Frogs Do I Have To Kiss?, January 19, 2015 Post Link
Guest Post: Books Vs. E-readers, December 21, 2014 Post Link
Guest Post: Using Createspace, December 21, 2014 Post Link
Guest Post: Author Social Media Checklist, December 6, 2014 Post Link