Round Robin – How do you self-edit your work?

How do you self-edit your books before submitting or publishing? This is the question Rhobin asked us to consider in March.

 

 

 

 

 

Self-editing is a complex process and I’ve taken a few days of thought to work out what I might say here.

I have a degree in English Literature and Language and very good language and editing skills – BUT, I’m not perfect and I HAVE NO ILLUSIONS that I might be.

Without or before outside editorial help, what can one do?

RULE No ONE:

Always, always, leave the work to read again. Short articles or blogs, irritated letters to your publisher – you might get away with an overnight gap. Anything longer, a minimum of a week. The reason for setting a MS aside is that you come back to it with the eye of a reader.

RULE No TWO:

Put into Find and Replace a hair colour or the words green/blue/grey eyes in the hope your inability to remember the hero/heroine’s hair or eye colouring will have remained consistent throughout. In my case, it won’t. While you’re doing Find and Replace check out your word tics. My major one is redundant ‘thats’. Great way to reduce a tight word count.

RULE No THREE:

Write out a timeline for all the major characters and find out whether two of them have slammed a door, fallen off a horse, whatever. Good plot ideas have a tendency to hang about.

In General, I start each day with a read-through. Of a novel, this will be from the top for a while, but eventually the words have piled on and time doesn’t permit. I do benefit from the red spelling warnings, but find the purpley ones hinting at grammar issues less useful.

As regular visitors know I’m in a group called Capital Writers. One of our members, Jane Riddell, has produced this helpful guide – Words’worth 

I wrote the bulk of Bella’s Betrothal during my one stint in Nano-Wri-Mo. The advice was to avoid self-editing in order to get the word count up and the words on the page. It was quite a departure to normal practice for me, but that book is full of energy. It has also been edited by me and by the wonderful Judy Roth.

Fellow Robiners are listed below and perhaps you’d like to pop across and read their thoughts. Tweets and FB shares really appreciated, folks.

I’ve left the household to themsleves on the domestic front and will be at the Scottish Association of Writers weekend school when this post goes up. Apologies if it takes me a while to get back to your wonderful comments – How do you cope with self-editing?

Anne


Skye Taylor

Diane Bator

Beverley Bateman


Connie Vines

A.J. Maguire 


Dr. Bob Rich

Victoria Chatham


Helena Fairfax


Judith Copek


Rhobin L Courtright

 

 

 

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15 thoughts on “Round Robin – How do you self-edit your work?

  1. Excellent advice on waiting. That was one thing I didn’t used to do. I was so eager to fix everything and finish, I’d dive into editing as soon as I typed the end. Now I follow this advice and wait at least a week.

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  2. I usually re-read the last chapter before starting the next, just to get myself back up to speed with who is doing what, or what is happening.

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  3. Good post, Anne And you also offered a couple of good suggestions I haven’t tried. Find and Replace a hair colour or the words green/blue/grey eyes in the hope your inability to remember the hero/heroine’s hair or eye colouring will have remained consistent throughout. And write out a timeline for all the major characters and find out whether two of them have slammed a door, fallen off a horse, whatever. Thanks.
    Beverley

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    • Hi Beverley, thanks for dropping by. I don’t know why I can’t remember hair or eye colour. I was at a writing conference over the last couple of days and one novelist there said he never described his protagonist at all. Not sure I could get away with that in the romance genre. Anne

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  4. Hi Anne, that’s interesting that your NaNoWriMo book was full of energy. I really struggle with moving on, and could spend a day going back and ‘fiddling’. I’ve tried to trying to let go but I find it hard!
    I like your tip about using a word search. I have a tendency to keep repeating the colour of characters’ eyes. I could use this to delete some of the repetitions. Thanks for the interesting post!

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    • Hi Helena, yes, I thought it was an interesting NaNo effect, too. Probably the brain just gets into gear and drives on. character’s eyes! I read Snowdrift after Christmas. It’s a collection of Georgette Heyer’s short stories. She simply makes every character’s eyes grey. Redult! Anne

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  5. Interesting that your NaNoWriMo had great energy. I always go back over my writing several times while it is still fresh, but this is an interesting idea. i know a lot of people, however, who have a computer-full of NaNoWriMo half-books that they never finished. Congratulations on finishing and publishing.

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    • Hi Judy, I think it’s very commone to do something like NaNo in great spirits and lose impetus when the buzz of community dies away. I just loved my story and finished it in the January as I don’t get much written in December. anne

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  6. Pingback: Round Robin – How do you self-edit your work? | judyinboston

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