E is for Editing

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge–blogging every day in the month of April (except Sundays!) with each letter of the alphabet.

No one writes a book, story, article, or even a poem perfectly the first time (or a blog post–hilariously I made a mistake in this first line when I went back over it). That is, the first draft of any piece of writing never comes out pristine. If you can do this, I don’t trust you because obviously you’re from another realm, or have magic powers, or have sold your soul. For the rest of us mere mortals, we have editing.

From self-editing and rewriting, to having a friend go over your work, to professional editors, our stories need to go through a bunch of plucking and polishing before they’re fit for public consumption. I used to hate editing, but I eventually grew to enjoy the process of rearranging and cutting, making things better and learning more about my craft at the same time. Here are some types of editing:

Self-editing: After you throw the first draft down, you have to fix it up. This is where a lot of rearranging and finagling comes in, and a lot of chopping and adding and rewriting. This is where you get to smooth things over and not worry about anyone judging you. But your eyes can get pretty blurry after reading the same lines 500 times, so it’s best you–

Have a second opinion: Let a friend look it over. A critique partner. Your writing group. A beta reader. They can catch the things you can no longer see and show you where you’re sagging, so you can prop those spots up and do yet another round of rewriting and editing.

Going pro: Once you’ve polished as much as you can, it’s time for the professionals to take over. If you’re traditionally published you’ll get one of these complimentary from your publisher, but if you’re indie you should definitely invest in one yourself. Indie or pro, there are different kinds of editors out there: lazy ones, adequate ones, and great ones. Hopefully you’ll end up with one of the great ones. Great editors will not only pick apart your words and show you the way, but teach you more about the art of writing. I’ve learned so many invaluable things from great editors over the years and I am eternally grateful.

So how do you feel about editing? Love it? Hate it? Have you ever worked with a great editor and learned something new in the process?

19 comments

  1. I hate the editing process for my own longer works, though I understand the necessity of it (I’m terrible at grammar, so I need extra proofing). It’s also hard to know when you’re finished editing. Is it finished after 3 drafts? 4? 5? I guess it’s different for every author and each piece.

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    1. Yes, longer works can be super grueling. I’ve encountered this myself. And trust me, you can edit it to death, then when you send it off to an editor, they will still find a million things wrong with it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve done the editing process so many times I’ve lost count. Right now I’m at a stage where I’ve put a pause on editing. Right now, I’m in write mode. Great post.

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    1. I go back and forth too. Even if I’ve got multiple projects going I try to be writing or editing on all of them at the same time, because my brain is in different modes for those things.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. And don’t forget the different ‘flavors’ of editors. Some will edit for basic language, grammar, etc. Some will specialize in editing for consistency some will focus on formatting. It’s always a good idea to make sure you know exactly what you are buying when you hire any editor. Great post! Love the theme. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I agree! The best kinds of editors do a little bit of everything, and also help you learn along the way. I’m fortunate to have a really great editor with Kensington. She does a thorough job and I’ve learned so much from her.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this! I laughed out loud at this line: “If you can do this, I don’t trust you because obviously you’re from another realm, or have magic powers, or have sold your soul.” I haven’t quite gotten to the “going pro” phase, but am self-editing and getting critique as I go. If I have a particular piece or chapter I need a second opinion on, I love the writing group I have. Having other writers who you trust with your baby is absolutely invaluable in getting constructive criticism and advice to make your story that much better.

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    1. LOL I’m glad you like my sense of humor (seriously though, don’t trust those other-realm people…) And critique partners are absolutely invaluable. It’s always good to have another set of eyes looking at your work.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t see on your blog that you have been nominated for the Liebster Award, so I’m nominating you! 🙂

        I’m working on my post now (I was nominated by a fellow blogger over the weekend). Stay tuned for the instructions if you chose to participate! 🙂

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  5. I love editing now, since it demonstrates how much I’ve grown as a writer. It’s particularly fun to edit really old manuscripts, and manuscripts which consist of material from many different stages of my development as a writer. Twenty years ago, I didn’t think I needed to edit anything, and at best would just expand a scene and layer gold over dross. Now I’m not afraid to cut or radically rewrite outright junk. However, that kind of honesty and skill at self-editing doesn’t come to everyone, and doesn’t develop until one has been writing for many, many years.

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    1. Totally agreed! It’s really amazing to go back and look at old stuff knowing what you know now. Instead of cringing I just chuckle at myself. I used to think I knew it all too! Now I know I really don’t know half of it, even still.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. In my experience, the best editors don’t take too heavy handed an approach to grammar. They’re willing to debate with you rather than hand down absolute judgements. I once had a lively debate with my editor about comma usage where, by the end, we both changed our minds.

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  7. At this point, I’m just hoping to finally make it to the editing process. I’m told to write and then edit but that is so much easier said than done, so far to the point of preventing me from doing either.

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    1. I used to be like that. It’s very hard not to edit as you write, because you want to fix it up as you go along. Trust me though, if you just let the words come and worry about fixing them up after, the writing will come a lot faster!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. Hi Megan, really liked your post. I have several friends who I ask to comment on my first drafts, and they all notice something different. I wouldn’t dream of discounting their comments, even if I decide not to incorporate them all, they’re far too valuable for that.

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    1. Thanks! It’s always a wonderful thing to have someone to look at your drafts and give you suggestions–sometimes we’ve already been staring at them for so long we can’t see the mistakes!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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