Guest Post: Death by Editing
So you finished your manuscript and the feeling of relief comes rushing down your body to your fingertips as you type “The End”. The first word that comes to mind and springboards off your lips is “done”. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. In fact, once you’re done writing, the real fun begins. Editing can be the most useful and self-humiliating process all at the same time. Useful because not only are you polishing your work for a better finished product, but you can also trim the fat, improve your story, and also get outside opinions if you’re ready for that. Self-humiliating because you realize maybe you should have paid attention to the grammar section in your English class. Or you’re not that good of a speller as you thought you were. Or worst of all, you stop believing in your story all together and scrap it. For better or for worse, editing is essential to any writing process if you want to be taken seriously as a writer. Here are some things I do to make the process a little easier.
Just walk away. Whether it’s a script, novel, or short story, finishing a project is an accomplishment in itself no matter how rough it is. The best thing you can do for you and the project is just to walk away from it. Give your eyes and brain a rest by closing the laptop. I personally like to take a week of no writing so I can recharge and transition back into the regular world, but you can take as long as you need. When you come back to it, you’re more likely to catch typos and holes in your story.
Read. Reread. And you guessed it… read again. This is where the pain comes in. If you want to be considered the best, you can’t take any shortcuts. So just dive right in and read it until your eyes bleed. Ok, don’t do that because if your eyes are bleeding you should definitely go to the hospital, but you do want to know your story front to back then back to front. It might seem tedious at times, or the whole time, but it is definitely necessary. I make it a point to read whatever I’m writing at least 10 times front to back. In some cases, even that’s not enough, but it’s a start.
Become Leonardo DiCaprio. How can you become an Academy Award winning actor who cares about the environment and can date any woman on the planet you might be asking? It’s a lot easier when it comes to editing your work. Now you won’t have agents beating down your door, but you will have a good grasp on what the voices sound like in your manuscript. I read out loud/acted out every part of my book, The Color of Love, like I was auditioning to be in the Titanic and it really works. It keeps the dialogue fresh and more realistic. Sometimes I do this even if when I’m out in public. Some people give me a strange look because it seems like I’m talking to myself but I don’t care. It’s making my craft better and it can make yours better too. Act out your work and I promise you’ll have fun doing it. Especially if you have a friend doing it with you.
Get some feedback. Preferably professional. This might be the most important thing that you as a writer can do. The fact of the matter is, NO ONE does it alone. Even the most famous writers have people proof reading their work. Whether it’s line editing or copy editing, a different set of eyes with a different view on the world is always good whether they give positive or constructive feedback. With my book, The Color of Love, I did all my edits then passed it off to my wife. Believe it or not she still found errors throughout and some things she didn’t like about the story. After I went through her notes and made the appropriate corrections, I read it front to back again (I know right) and once I felt it was ready I sent it to a professional to be proofread. Surprisingly when it came back there were just minor things that needed to be fixed. So I made the corrections and ever so anxious hit that publish button. It’s better to get this out the way behind the scenes than by your readers.
So that was fun right? Ok, maybe it wasn’t as fun as writing the story but it is very necessary to do. When you finish your manuscript make sure you give yourself a break; you deserve it. Read it over and over and over again. You can’t read enough. Have fun acting out your best scenes and get a friend involved. And finally, the most important step, get some outside feedback. I can’t stress enough how important this is. So strap up you boots and prepare for war because it comes in the form of editing. But when you finish the whole process you will never be more proud of yourself. Happy writing!
About the Book
Title: The Color of Love
Author: Ty Mitchell
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Daisy, a struggling artist working as a bartender in Los Angeles, wants to use Mike’s connections in the art world.
Mike, not accustomed to rejection, wants to use Daisy to prove to his friends that he is man enough for the ultimate conquest.
So when Mike cozies up to Daisy, she doesn’t reject his advances. But both are surprised when ulterior motives fall by the wayside, and they find themselves entangled in feelings they never expected. Daisy must decide where her heart is leading her—and if she wants to follow.
Ty Mitchell is an American freelance writer who writes about life and relationships on his blog, The-VPF.com, and publications such as Elite Daily.
What-if moments inspire Mitchell’s writing, as he explores the different turns his life could have taken if he had made different decisions.
Mitchell enjoys drawing and writing short stories, novels, and screenplays. He happily lives with his Sicilian wife, newborn son, and German-born beagle.