Editing Madness & Other Stuff

Monday, September 12, 2011

I have a strange attitude toward editing. It’s not something I enjoy before I get out of the starting gate. That’s probably why there are six or so completed mss that I haven’t touched in years. Then there’s the issue of time. But the strange thing is, once I get going, I enjoy the process. I’m on what feels like the gazillionth edit of a women’s fiction novel that will be released in the fall. 

The challenge with this project is that there are three women whose lives take on roller-coaster like qualities because of their choices. On one round of editing, I took a three-pronged approach where I printed out the book according to characters. That way I caught continuity issues, brushed up on personal preferences and checked for repetition. These things are easy to miss when I am reading the entire story at once.

I thought compiling the chapters for each woman was a good idea then. Now I know it was brilliant, especially yesterday, when I caught up with a crystal cat paperweight that had turned into a globe. Oh, yeah! And I only caught it because I was reading Dionne’s chapters in isolation. Since I can’t afford to print nearly 300 pages again, I have the main character to go and then I’ll read the whole thing before printing it one final time.

I’m not sure I’ll write from three perspectives again. Distraction was my 2008 NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) project and it’s taken me all this time – on and off, but mostly off – to get these women in order. My romantic suspense novels are written from male/female points-of-view. Writing through the eyes of three women with very different voices was enjoyable and provided a challenge. However, as they say, the devil is in the details. I’m still boggled when I think that this is the one of those books for which I did a detailed outline and character charts.   

The trouble is that when an idea pops up, especially something that I haven’t done before, it’s hard to say no to the challenge.  I’ll bet you’ve had some idea or writing technique that jumped out at you that was so tempting you couldn’t say no. Ever found yourself going down a story path or taking on a genre that you never thought you’d tackle? 

On another note, if you’re part of the Campaign and want to check out my 200-word flash fiction, jump to here and scroll down the page.

Also, Theresa Milstein is giving away four awesome books. The giveaway is open internationally and ends on September 27th at midnight. Go check that out

Have a great week and remember to meet some writing goals!


  1. Hi Joy, we edit the same way. I like to keep the chapters together which involve the same characters and read and edit them at the same time. It makes the most sense IMO. Great minds think alike!

  2. Yes, editing this way keeps me more focused, especially since I do different things on each edit.

  3. I just go into the book - one chapter at a time. Reread...and reread again.

    I just went through editing 3 novels that I wrote a few years back. It's like having 3 completely new novels under my belt!

  4. I like hearing the methods authors use to edit.

    Thanks for the link to my blog, letting people know about the contest!

  5. I think your approach was brilliant too ;). Those tiny details jump out at readers. I found myself flipping pages on an earlier manuscript just to check for consistency with spelling a character's name...even for haircolor. I've used charts/notes ever since.

  6. http://thecharacterdepot.blogspot.com/2011/09/editing-madness-other-stuff.html

    Sometimes editing is like exercise—difficult to get started with but filled with some really good-feel moments during and after the process. :) I enjoyed learning how you tackle this step, as it gave me some great ideas.

    BTW, I love the art you ran with this post—beautiful!

  7. That's an interesting way to approach writing from three different points-of-view. Have you read Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner? If not, I think you should. He handles different points-of-view really well (of course he is Falkner so...) 'nuff said.

  8. Loree, thanks for dropping in. I'm envious. You do have three new books under your belt. Having edited them now, your skill level would have climbed since the time you wrote them.

    Theresa, no problem on the link. We do have some strange and not-so-strange ways of editing.

    Rula, my experience rewriting the first novel I got published taught me to keep notes. It's so much less frustrating when it comes time to edit.

    Michelle, yes, editing is kinda like exercise and the best part is getting to the point where I craft sentences that feel like they weren't written by me.

    As to the picture, I love it too. It speaks to the happier moments my characters experience in their lives. I've used it as part of my header and got it off photobucket. I was trying to find it on there this morning, to give the artist credit, but I coudn't. Bad writer!

    Haven't read that book, Micheal, but will definitely try to get my hands on it. Thanks for the recommendation.

  9. Funnily enough, my current wip is from three different perspectives. I was thinking about doing what you've done when the time comes to editing. Sounds like it will be a good idea.

  10. I agree that once I get going I *flow* at editing. It's the getting started that stinks! :P

  11. Sarah, it definitely helps to focus on one character at a time.

    AA, you can say that again!

  12. You are only up to your gazillionth edit? Pfft, you have a few more to go yet ;)
    You certainly gave yourself a challenge but it sounds like you've mastered it.

  13. I find editing more stressful because I felt like I have to have something really legible by the end of it (whereas with the first draft you don't have to worry about it). Then again, it might be just my inertia going on. Good luck with yours, seemed like you're on the right track! :)

    Oh, and hello! I'm your fellow campaigner from the Women Fiction/Chicklit group... very late checking in :D

  14. Luv your blog. Follow you on Twitter too.

  15. I think about those three women. I didn't read many chapters, but the characters really stuck with me... maybe because I was so struck by some of the choices they were making. When I read your flash fiction piece, I thought of this story and wondered if I was reading what happened to the woman who placed building up her business above everything else... wish I could remember names.

    I actually like editing... it comes pretty easily, but I think that it's just because I'm so glad the writing part is over.

  16. Lynda, challenges help float my boat.

    Hey, Astrid, thanks for dropping in. When you're getting close to the finish line the pressure isn't as intense - for me, anyway.

    Thanks, Tea! Checking you out.

  17. Doralynn, I know they made some bad choices, but I'm happy you still think about them. :)

    No, the woman in the flash isn't one of these.

    I suppose your editing goes well based on the way you look at it.

  18. Good luck with this threesome. My CP has three protagonists in a previous manuscript that she's shelved for the time being. I'm going to send her the link to this post. Thanks.

  19. Thanks for dropping in and for your good wishes, Carol.

    Hope this post helps your CP.

    I'm about to tackle that third and most important woman.

  20. Hi! :)

    I gave you a blog award today on my blog



  21. Yes, I should go meet some writing goals, but it's so fun to rub shoulders with other writers instead. *sigh* I need a time-inhibiting clock--stop the world so I can get EVERYTHING done.

  22. Kelley, thanks much. I am soooo bad with posting these. I'll try and get to it soon. Thanks again.

    Boy do I know about that, Crystal. I have to exercise some serious restraint just to get some editing done. :) happy

    Can you imagine if we had more than 24 hours in a day? we'd run ourselves ragged.

  23. It's good to know that the NaNo was productive in a long term way. I have trouble holding whole novels in my head and am not surprised about that paper-weight mix up. I also have trouble getting myself to print things out (so stingy with paper)but it's the only way to really see what's going on. Good luck with this. It sounds like an amazing idea.

  24. Rosalind, thanks for stopping in. NaNo has been very good to me. My last published novel came out of NaNo 2008. With the expense of paper, we do have to be frugal with printing up copies, but it has to be done.

    Thanks very much for your good wishes. Reading each woman's story in isolation is the best thing I ever did editing-wise.


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