How I Edit

16 Mar

I edit others work. A lot. A lot, a lot. Did I mention I do edits a lot? No? Well I do. I’ve always loved going over others work, combing through it, making it better.  Helping great writers get even greater. (And in the process it makes me a better writer too) It’s awesome. And so, I thought today I would share how I edit.  I’ll be demonstrating how I crit using an entry from the ‘On Thin Ice’ Flash Fiction Contest’ I hosted back in January.

This piece is by one of my lovely followers. Rae Ann. Who asked me to critique her piece for her, and was lovely enough to volunteer to be featured in this post. You can find her blog  HERE.

The first thing I do when reading a manuscript is do line edits. Oh how I LOVE LINE EDITS! (Some of you call them track changes). The thing is, I don’t like doing just global editing. Sure global editing is important, but if I can’t get all the little nuances out-of-the-way how can I focus? So, I go in and do cross outs, (add a comma or period here and there), but mostly, as I go I make comments about mood, character, and what I’m feeling (or worse, not feeling) while reading here is a photo of Rae Ann’s piece all marked up (you can select the photo for a zoom in):

To get a better look at what my line edits look like i’ll give you some specific examples:

EX 1:

Like pins and needles, it stabbed, pricked and pierced * into my  feet. it seared through my soles and to the nerves,** slowly but mercilessly ***scorching my spine, burning into every fiber of my body.

And this is what I said about my edits in the comments:

*I would use only one of these. Using all of them adds a lot of bulk to the sentence that it doesn’t need.

**If your saying that it’s making her feet prickle/stab/ etc. then they are obviously tender. I would recommend cutting this.

***I would choice either slowly or mercilessly both of them make the sentence sound too clunky in my opinion.

EX 2:

My muscles squealed with a throbbing ache* as I forced myself **to take a few more steps. The cottage swam shakily into view, and I blinked my eyes a few times to make sure that it was still there.

I chose this one because it gives a good example of how I add in writerly tid-bits. I always feel like I should put one of those cheesy “tips” columns in like they do in how-to books when I write something like this. These are the corresponding comments:

*Not sure how I feel about this sentence. I would cut or change it. It reads awkwardly to me.

** Sorry… freaked for a minute there, but you want to stay away from using as if at all possible. As it stutters the ‘time stream’ that I was talking about earlier. As, is… well, how do I explain this?

As says that your character is doing something at the same time as they are doing something else, usually this isn’t good to put in because it causes the reader to have to add something to their mental image, instead of naturally flowing into the next sentence… does that make sense? I hope so… I’m not very good at explaining this am I?\

Anyway, after I do line edits/track changes, I always do an ‘Overview’ letter. If I’m doing a novel edit I sometimes do this for each chapter. Basically this is where I try to lay out the big picture issues and high points of the novel/story. This needs work, but this is awesome, kind of thing.  Here is what Rae Ann’s overview letter looked like. It was rather short since I only had four pages to edit.

I guess that’s about it.

How do you all do edits? Any tips?


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