The Ins and Outs of Editing

A Nest of Hornets is with my editor, Ashlee Enz! Her efforts are critical to the novel’s success, but they are only one layer of editing. I have found the editing process to be a multi-phased operation.

When I write a first draft it tends to be in fits and starts. Occasionally I will get a good couple of uninterrupted hours to write, and when I do I try not to get hung up. If something isn’t quite right, I often just move on, planning to fix it “in editing.” Oftentimes I find myself tapping out a scene or patch of dialogue using the “notes” function on my phone, and then I email it to myself. Either way, this can result in the ROUGH DRAFT being VERY rough, so my first phase of editing is to go back through my manuscript on my computer to correct glaring typos and smooth out the flow.

Now I have DRAFT 1. It is still a little rough around the edges but a least is fairly coherent. I then try to take a break for a week or two. After the break, coming back fresh, the next step is to print out the manuscript and read it, pen in hand. I find reading a paper copy to be a very different experience from reading on a computer monitor; I tend to find more missing words and typos, but I also get a better feel for the narrative flow. I use pen and ink to mark issues and jot down corrections. If I am uncertain about something, I will often read it aloud; verbalizing reveals flaws that would otherwise remain hidden. This is also the stage at which scenes tend to get added or deleted, and paragraphs shuffled around. Once I am through with the printed work, I do the tedious work of going page by page in hard and soft copies, transferring edits from page to digits. I hate this part, but it is critical to success. By the time this is done, we are ready for the editor.

DRAFT 2 goes away to the editor. For a short time I clear my mind of the current book while the editor does her magic. When I get the edited copy back it is full of proposed revisions, which I go through one-by-one. With Times That Try Men’s Souls I think I accepted about 99.5% of Ashlee’s recommended changes: a good editor is priceless!

Now I have DRAFT 3. But we’re not done! There are three critical steps left, not necessarily done in this order:

  • Expert consultation. My son is in the target age group. I prefer him to read a draft to make sure I am on track. I the case of A Nest of Hornets there is also a bit of swordplay, and my son is a talented fencer, so I counted on him to make sure I got the technical and tactical bits right.
  • More expert consultation. My wife has been incredibly supportive of my writing, and I value her feedback. Her approval is critical.
  • One last read. I look through the manuscript one more time before identifying a FINAL DRAFT. This is the version that goes to Createspace or the publisher.

Once the publishing process begins, we can talk marketing. On the other hand, that next book in the series is so shiny…

Gideon Hawke Novels Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GideonHawkeNovels/

Clean Edits Website: https://editorash.wordpress.com/

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