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Stick It To ‘Em

By On Aug 18 2012, 1:00 am

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I’m one of the odd ducks who loves to edit. Butterflies of happiness flutter in my tummy whenever fresh edits pop into my inbox. Um, let me clarify. I enjoy receiving them from other people. I’m just as moany and groany as everyone else when it comes to self-edits or revisions prior to submission.

The best thing to do when facing an uphill editing battle?

Dig in and get ‘er done!

I write novel-length work, so anywhere from 60k and up. Usually I’m hanging out in the 85k neighborhood these days. The weird thing? It seems the longer my books are, the cleaner they are. Or maybe it’s not the length, but the experience I’ve gotten from writing longer than I used to. My increased word counts have definitely led to an increased need for a faster, cleaner way to self-edit.

My answer? Post-It notes.

Not only are they super cute (have you seen the apple and orange 3D Post-Its?), but they’re super effective as well. Through trial and error, mostly error, I have developed an editing system that works for me. This is how it goes…

I read the manuscript from front to back and don’t stop no matter how twitchy errors or lost plot threads make me. While I won’t make a full stop, I will pause to make a note on a Post-It so that I remember the page and the problem later. This allows me to keep the flow of the story in mind.

Once I’ve completed the read, I turn to my stack of sticky notes and work through them one at the time until I have addressed all the issues I caught.

From that point, it’s rinse and repeat until I can read through the book without the need to stop and make notes of any kind.

Only then do I pass the book on to my first critique partner, who marks up the book and returns it.

I address whatever issues she has, then pass it on to the next. So forth and so on.

I realized as I was typing this, that I have a very long and involved critique process, but you know what? It’s totally worth it when my editor or line editor mentions how clean my books are.

That causes another round of flutters in my tummy, because I’m proud to turn in books that are as close to perfect as I can make them. It not only says I’m serious about my work to my editor, but it also tells my readers I put my best effort forth on the stories they spend their hard-earned money to buy.

I know I appreciate that extra work as a reader, so I’m sure other readers do too.

The next time you’re staring down a mountain of edits, maybe you’ll think of using my Post-It trick to stick it to the problem spots in your manuscript.


2 Responses to “Stick It To ‘Em”

  1. Nichole Saints says:

    I have the terrible habit of editing as I go. I can’t seem to stop myself. It’s like an addiction that gives me the twitchy eye, chewing on my bottom lip, gotta fix it before I go insane kind of addiction too. I have tried and tired countless times to just let it go and fix it later, but I can’t seem to help it. By doing that I throw my whole thought process off, and then by the time I fix what I was wigging out over I have completely forgot what I was writing in the first place. I seriously need to fix this problem, because after doing that editing that threw off my thought process it was all for nothing.

  2. Nichole, I edit as I go too. I can’t seem to help myself. It’s more that I’ve made peace with my need to tweak each individual chapter before I write forward. If I write something later that contradicts a previous chapter but works better for the plot, I make a note on a post-it (page number and what the change was) and just keep writing forward. That’s hard. Resisting the urge to go back and make corrections. By forcing myself to keep edits within the chapter I’m writing, I feed my self-editing need while moving closer to the end of the story.

    Editing-as-you-go a very hard habit to kick, and I don’t think I ever will completely. So much of writing successfully is learning your method, and then figuring out the best way to maximize your productivity within your personal comfort zone. :)

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