Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today I will be continuing my Editing Q&A series, where you (my readers) will get to ask me all your editing-related questions, and I will answer them.
We will be going over topics such as breaking cliches, why editing is important, how much time you should spend editing, and more! Remember that you can still submit questions through THIS FORM if you have more for me to answer, and I’ll answer them in the next post!
NOTE: if all your questions weren’t answered here, then don’t worry, I will still be answering them in part three of the series!
Why do you edit?
Honestly, I love this question. Sometimes writers (including myself) take the editing process for granted–we know we have to edit, but we don’t know why. We just do it.
However, sometimes it can be helpful to know why we are actually editing our story! Why not publish the story on the first draft? Maybe it has mistakes, but is it bad enough that it can’t be published?
Let me walk you through some of the reasons why writers need to edit their work.
- Even if your story seems perfect, there are still mistakes, and it’s good to edit to make sure you have all of them fixed. Obviously, as a writer, you’re going to make some mistakes. Maybe you wrote your first draft really efficiently, but I can still guarantee you that there will be some mistakes in your first draft, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.
- Editing is a great way to learn. Whether you write as a hobby or do it full-time, editing is always one of the best ways to learn how to write better. Just analyzing a manuscript and looking for ways to fix it is beneficial.
- Readers don’t want an imperfect manuscript. Alright, let me share a little secret with you, just in case you don’t know: your writing will NEVER be perfect. Nope. The only writer whose work is perfect is God’s. But as mortal human beings, we can never fully reach perfection. But guess what? People expect us to reach perfection. That’s right! Our readers want to read a perfect book. Obviously, we can’t entirely fulfill that expectation, but what we can do is get our story as close to perfect as possible, without spending our entire lives on edits.
So those are a few reasons why you should edit, Selah! That doesn’t mean your first draft isn’t good–but it could be better with a little bit of editing.
What is the best editing tip?
Another excellent question! I don’t think there is one best editing tip out there, but I do have a couple of tips that are extremely helpful for editors and writers alike.
Tip #1: Don’t be a perfectionist. Okay, I know I just talked about how you want to get your manuscript “as perfect as possible” since that’s what your readers want–but I also want to add that there’s a balance to perfection. You need to know that your manuscript will never be completely perfect. You can still do your very best to get your novel close to perfection, but remember that there is a point where you should stop. I will address the issue of exactly when you should stop editing in a question below.
Tip #2: When editing other’s work, don’t only give the problems, give the solutions. This is one of my few tips that is unrelated to self-editing a manuscript. This applies to when you are editing the work of someone else, and they hired you as an editor, a beta reader, or just to give some feedback. My best tip for when editing other’s work is to give them solutions, not just point out the problems. Yes, point out the problems too, but after pointing out a problem, give them a possible solution or two. This makes it so much easier for the writer who is editing their book.
So those are two of my best editing tips! Hopefully that helps!
How many times do you recommend going through and editing what you’ve written?
The answer to this question partially depends on how messy your first draft is. If this is your first novel, then you’ll probably have to go through your manuscript much more than if you have written hundreds of novels already.
I recommend you go through your writing at least two or three times. The first pass can focus on larger issues such as structure and organization, and the other passes can focus on more detailed issues such as grammar and word choice. The exact number of passes will depend on the length and complexity of the piece, your experience as a writer, and as your personal preferences and writing style.
How much time/days do you think should be spent editing, and how much should be spent writing?
This will depend on your goals, the length of the piece, and your personal writing style. Some writers prefer to write a rough draft and then spend more time editing, while others prefer to take a more iterative approach and edit as they go.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but I think it’s a good idea to make some time for both writing and editing so that your writing can improve.
If you think of the process of writing a novel as three parts: the first, second, and final drafts, then you could estimate that one-third of the time would be spent writing and two-thirds editing. Again, this depends on your preferences as a writer, but this could give you an idea of when you should start editing.
Do you use a method when you edit?
For me personally, I have never really thought about my editing methods until now. I think some of my editing processes depend on which stage I’m in–if I’m doing an edit of the plot, the sentence structure, or the grammar.
If I’m editing the plot of the novel, (a content edit), then I will pay very little attention to any other little mistakes in the writing, and I will only make sure there are no plot holes, unnecessary characters, cliches, and other things like that. I will also look at my outline and change things there first, then I will go into my novel and edit until the plot looks good.
If I’m editing grammar or sentence structure, then I will be more likely to go slower through the story and read through every word. Often, if a sentence doesn’t sound right, I’ll cut it or find a better way of rewriting it. If I see a grammatical mistake, I’ll fix it. If there needs to be a paragraph break, I’ll add one. Just simple stuff like that.
So those are the main methods I use for editing; but here are a few tips for other editing methods you could use:
- Read the piece out loud to catch mistakes and awkward phrasing.
- Print out a hard copy and read through it with a pen or pencil in hand.
- Use a checklist or outline to ensure you are covering all the important points.
- Ask another writer to review your work and provide feedback.
How do you edit when you are absolutely hating it?
Editing can be a tedious and time-consuming task, and it’s super easy to feel frustrated or discouraged while doing it. If you are having trouble getting through the editing process, here are a few things you can try:
- Take breaks: Editing for long periods of time can be draining, so it is important to take breaks to rest your mind and refocus.
- Change your location: Sometimes, a change of scenery can help to clear your mind and allow you to approach your work with fresh eyes.
- Seek feedback: Asking someone else to review your work and provide feedback can help you to identify areas for improvement and stay motivated.
I find myself editing a lot as I write- I read through what I’ve already written and make content edits. Is this wrong? Should I wait and write it all first? Does it matter?
There is no right or wrong way to approach the writing and editing process, and different writers have different preferences and styles. Some writers prefer to write a rough draft and then go back and edit, while others prefer to edit as they go.
Ultimately, what matters is finding a process that works for you and helps you to produce high-quality work. If you find that you are able to write more efficiently and effectively when you edit as you go, then there is no reason to change your approach. But if you find that you are getting bogged down in the editing process and are having trouble making progress on your writing, it might be helpful to try doing it differently.
I also answered this question in more detail in my last Editing Q&A post, so make sure to check that out!
If I’m writing a short story just to work on writing craft improvement and I do not plan to share it with anyone, should I edit it and revise it, make it perfect, when it’s just for myself?
I would personally say yes, you should edit your short story, because it will help you practice editing for future projects. The thing is, editing is a part of the writing craft. Practicing your editing skills does help you improve. So do edit your short story, and by practicing that skill, you’ll get better!
However, no one is forcing you to edit a story that no one is going to read, so the decision of whether you should edit or not is completely up to you. I would just recommend editing because I know how much it has helped me grow as a writer.
Now Go Write!
Well, that’s all we’ve got for today, folks. I hope you all found this helpful!
Have a great day, everyone, and I hope to hear from you in the comments!
What does your editing process look like? Do you ever hate editing? What are some good reasons writers should learn to edit? Let me know in the comments!