Before I start, one thing needs to be made absolutely clear: I detest and despise editing. But, as all writers know, you can’t just be sending your first drafts off to literary magazines without so much as a read-over, so the beast must be faced. I’m not much of a hardcore editor, though, so I have a system that skirts around the actual editing as much as possible to keep the suffering brief. I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to break down pretty soon as I continue my editing of The Novel.
Without further unnecessary and irrelevent ado, here it is: The Wimp’s Guide to Editing.
- Draft without a care in the world. When drafting, I try my hardest not to think about the finished product or the editing that will ensue. This makes the revision itself worse, yes, but it puts it off. Procrastination is something I particularly pride myself on.
- Force other people to read it. Never, under any circumstances, try to be a wimpy editor without some beta readers on hand. Online writing buddies are good for this–if you have like-minded real-life friends, all the better. Your beta readers should pick out most of the major issues in your piece. Having others read towards the beginning of editing shortens the process, as well, since you’ll be getting outsiders’ reactions as part of the deal.
- Fix according to others’ suggestions. If you agree with your beta readers, or at least see their points, then you should fix the things they had major problems with now. Continue to put off your own examination of the piece.
- Be nitpicky. Be a proofreader now, and go through the piece looking for errors in spelling, grammar, and logic. Proofreading is usually treated as a final step in the editing process, but I like to take it on earlier. You can continue to procrastinate as you become more familiar with the story’s potential flaws and good points.
- Bite the bullet. Now you need to face the facts and actually do some of your own editing. Force yourself to see what’s wrong with the story. Make yourself see problems with the plot, spot awkwardly worded sentences, and decide which parts need to be removed, reduced, or expanded. This is undoubtably the hardest part of my writing cycle, but it needs to be done.
- Go back to Step Two and repeat until satisfied. Your story will never be considered perfect by everyone, but the editing has to stop somewhere. Otherwise, how would anything ever be published? That’s right, it wouldn’t. And not every story is going to become fully fit to see the light of day–just ask Anne Bradstreet. Stay wimpy, writers.