Where Writers Get Stuck: Editing and Revising

Welcome to Part 3 of our Where Writers Get Stuck mini-series, inspired by this Twitter poll.

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Be sure to check Part 1 and Part 2 for solutions to planning and drafting problems. Today is where we put on a different hat, going from writer to publisher.

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Don’t freak out. We’re using the term “publisher” loosely. The point is no matter which publishing path you take, you’ll have to make sure your manuscript is the best that you can make it before anyone else – even a professional editor – gets their pretty little hands on it.

I think that’s why lots of writers get stuck here. Editing and Revising is a BIG job with many things to consider – sentence structure, plot consistency, putting commas in the right places, etc etc. It can be hard to know where to start and what to do. And this lack of a plan is the primary culprit in getting stuck in this stage.

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Culprit 1: The writer doesn’t have an editing plan.

I’m not a fan of to-do lists. I’ve somehow managed to get through thirty-something years of my life without them (though I do occasionally flake on tasks I was supposed to do). But when it comes to editing and revising, I have a specific list that I follow for every book.

  1. Weave in critique comments
  2. Check for and remove crutch words and “newbie” words (check this post for more on those)
  3. Pass to editor, weave in notes
  4. Hand off to betas and proofreader, make applicable changes

I know “weave in critique comments” is rather vague. Allow me to offer an example.

crit example

This is a screen shot of critique comments from a section of my current WIP. When I have more than one critique partner (and I always do), I can view all comments at once for each chapter. Then I can decide which changes to make based on the comments. A general rule is if more than one CP makes a comment about the same thing, it has to change, but sometimes I make a change based on a single comment if I agree with their point.

After that, finding and removing crutch and newbie words is a matter of searching for them and working through the long list of results (again, this post is a guide if you need one). It’s a mind-numbingly mundane process that requires breaks.

BUT!

These first two steps get my manuscript in much better shape for the editor (pro tip – many editors charge less for a cleaner manuscript).

Assuming no major issues requiring rewrites are discovered by the editor or betas, after all of these steps, the book is ready for querying or publication (side note – those who go traditional will probably skip the editor stage since publishers have those, but soliciting feedback from CPs, betas, and maybe even a proofreader wouldn’t be a bad idea. Cleaner manuscript = better chance at getting a “yes”).

So if you’re stuck in the editing stage, here’s your solution: Create an editing plan. 

It doesn’t have to be just like mine or even close. But have a plan so you’re not staring into an abyss of editing tasks with no place to start.

Writers – What plan do you follow when editing and revising? Or do you need to adopt one?

6 thoughts on “Where Writers Get Stuck: Editing and Revising

  1. Pingback: Where Writers Get Stuck: Querying and Publishing | Allison Maruska

  2. I follow a very similar process. I also find I need an additional step. Between 2 and 3.
    I tend to write my dialogue very fast, it flows better that way but end up being two floating heads. I always have to go back and give them actions and setting to ground the heads.

    Liked by 1 person

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