Ah, the million dollar question has finally reached me!
When should you edit your work? When is the golden time when an author must edit? Is it after the first draft is completely written? Is it after each chapter? Should you edit a lot at a time or a small portion? Should you edit after each writing session, or, heaven forbid!, should you edit as you go?
There is a school of thought that seems to be prevalent right now among authors which says, “write as fast as you can, never stop to fix mistakes, typos, and don’t even think of editing until you’ve completed your first draft.” Does that sound familiar? Have you tried it? Does it work for you?
For some people that is a good thing. Edit after you have finished writing the first draft.
For some people it is best if they edit after a day of writing.
For some people the editing gets done as they write.
I’m one of those last people. I edit as I write. If I notice a typo, I’ll fix it. If a sentence just doesn’t sound right, I’ll go back and rewrite it until it’s good. This doesn’t mean that I never have to fix things later, but the chances of huge mistakes later is greatly diminished. (I’ve found that it also cuts back on lots of rewriting later.)
Here’s a look at the typical editing for one of my stories:
Write and edit. Each day to start my writing, I will go back and reread what I wrote the day before, or the time before if it was a few hours ago. As I read, I’ll edit. Next I’ll transfer my story to the computer, skim over it looking for those red squiggle lines. 🙂 After printing out a section (1,000-9,000 words), I’ll hand them over to my editor who reads and marks. I’ll then make the corrections. After the story is completed, I send the manuscript to my beta readers who often fine a few other mistakes. My final line of edits takes place after I’ve formatted my book and gotten my proof copy.
There are a few reasons why I do it this way.
- I like to reread my work so I keep things consistent and I know what I said last time.
- I honestly hate ignoring typos if I see them!
- If I edit small portions as I go, I am never faced with an entire novel that needs rewritten, seriously edited and is very daunting.
- It keeps my editor from getting too overwhelmed. 🙂
- I often get suggestions or questions from my editor that inspire another part of the story.
- I am not a planner, so most of the time I have no idea where the story is going as I write, so it helps to go back over it to edit and change as I go. This keeps large plot mistakes from happening.
- Because I go over it so many times in so many different formats, it is easier to catch mistakes.
But not everyone works that way.
So the answer to that million dollar question is . . . Fine what works best for YOU and stick with it! If you work best editing 5 chapters at a time, than do it, even if all your friends say you should edit after you write 7 chapters. If you hate the thought of having to edit your entire book at once, try editing smaller portions as you go. If you hate rereading your own writing, maybe you should find another occupation. 😉 But seriously, there is really no right or wrong way of when you should edit your story. You need to find that golden time(s) for yourself.
When do you like to edit? Do you do the whole thing all at once? Do you edit as you go? Why? Leave a comment and let me know.