Editing as you go: really that bad?

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JustineDell
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by JustineDell » March 21st, 2010, 11:36 am

mmcdonald64 wrote:I'm not too bad with grammar and spelling, my problem is leaving out little words. It, a, the, etc. I'm not the worlds fastest typist, maybe 40wpm when I'm on a roll, and so I guess my fingers just decide to skip the little words to catch up to what I'm thinking. Also, I find that editing one part messes up another, and I might not catch it.
I end up with missing words too (the, a, etc). I type pretty fast, 72 words per minute last time I tested it, so I think a lot of my problem is my brain works faster than I can type, so I end up with missing words, mispellings, and the like. Grammar on the other hand - that's a whole different story for me ;-)

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by Nathan Bransford » March 21st, 2010, 1:02 pm

There are so many ways to go about writing and editing, and I think it's most important to find the one that works for you. Some people find it easiest to just get the words out, some outline, some edit as they go.

I actually kind of edit before I write. I'm a relatively slow writer in that respect because I don't really sit down to write unless I have a very clear idea of where a chapter is going to go and how and it's a bit of a painstaking process. But I know other great writers who do the opposite - write first, figure out how it all works later. There's no right way or wrong way.

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Susan Quinn
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by Susan Quinn » March 21st, 2010, 2:21 pm

Ink, you are so right, and in your wonderfully lyrical way. The danger is not that we don't know how to write well; the danger is thinking we write well enough.

It was a revelation to me that my chapters came out better if I wrote them badly first (then revised). It's so counterintuitive, I had to discover it by accident. But now it's become a part of my process - rough, intuitive revision (because my intuitive editor is not too shabby), and then a painstaking intentional edit. Discovering the process that works for you, as Nathan says, is part of the journey.
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polymath
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by polymath » March 21st, 2010, 2:58 pm

I tried a purely organic approach. Didn't work. Next I tried a purely structured approach. Didn't work. Eventually, a melded process came about, structured planning and testing, organic drafting, structured revisions and rewriting, organic redrafting, structured testing and intensely focused scrutiny. I'm reaching my goals now.
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christi
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by christi » March 21st, 2010, 6:55 pm

I've always been a bit disconcerted by the idea of 'first draft' and 'second draft' and 'fifteenth draft' when it comes to editing. I have a file that is my manuscript. I am (or was) constantly editing it, the same file. I did no re-writing, only editing. I write a chapter, then edit it until I'm happy with it for grammar and spelling, etc. I save it as a file. I write the next chapter, rinse repeat. When I finish, I put all chapters into one large file to get a feel for length. It was over 150,000 words so that is when it became a 'whole book' instead of 'pieces of a book' and I started to whittle away the fat. It's now down to 115,000, but it's fantasy so that count is okay.

My new one I started last weekend is more of an editing as I go work. I immediately notice passive voice. I immediately notice frivolousness or unnecessary information. I have seven pages so far, which isn't much, but in the past that might have been fifteen pages, the first chapter. By editing as I go, I save myself countless days of re-examing the work and looking for scenes to cut. Now I can fit in more STORY with less words. I don't move onto the next page unless I'm happy with the previous one.
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Ishta
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by Ishta » March 21st, 2010, 7:55 pm

I'm a get-it-all-down-now-before-I-forget-it kind of writer. For shorter manuscripts, like PBs, I edit as I go, but for the novel I'm working on I have to just type what I'm thinking while I'm thinking it and go back and fix it later. (I do correct spelling and punctuation errors as I go, though; I can't just let them sit on the page like that.) I've found that I'll have a great idea for a "scene", so I'll outline it quickly just so I remember everything, then I'll sit down and just bang it out.

The thing about this process is that the "scenes" don't come in the chronological order of the story; they're all mixed up. I have a rough outline (and I mean, ROUGH - like, the protagonist starts here, then this happens, and this is how everything works out) for the story, and I'll write a scene and put it into the general area that I think it should go, but I'm going to have to go back when I have most of it written and rearrange everything and figure out where the gaps are and fill those in. So it's pretty messy. But this is my first novel, and so far, I like it!

mojo25
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by mojo25 » March 21st, 2010, 11:21 pm

I think it's okay to edit as you go, as long as you keep the momentum going forward. I sometimes print out sections of what I've written, mark it up on hard copy and make edits in my file, before moving ahead to new chapters. I'm not sure writing one long (basically raw) draft and then going back and editing the whole thing later would work for me. I think of lots of ways of improving my ms as I'm writing. I suppose I could keep a long list of notes someplace, but it's easier and more efficient to fix as I go along.

lac582
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by lac582 » March 22nd, 2010, 2:05 pm

Wow, thanks everyone! Lots of things to think about.

I'm an outliner - so I've outlined pretty thoroughly, though I outlined the first half better and now I'm starting to reach points of not knowing exactly what's supposed to happen in the scenes I'm at the point of writing.

I think the 'clean' first draft concept is interesting. I know the plot fairly well, but I'm hating the voice, or lack thereof, so far, because I'm not writing the prose, I'm just spitting out action and dialogue. And I guess later I'll do a 'character' pass, and a 'world-building' pass, and and and...

I think I'll try going back and working on the voice of the first chapter just to motivate me so I can know that I have it in me to get the rest up to par once I've got the rest of the plot out.

I'm not writing everyday - maybe once or twice a week, so I don't have much of a 'flow' going on, which is part of the problem too.

lac582
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by lac582 » March 22nd, 2010, 2:14 pm

So yeah, I realized I should clarify and I'm not talking about line-editing and copy-editing so much as rewriting - changing the prose, adding subplots, enhancing characterization, basically fixing all the things you know need work the moment you put them down the first time :)

wildheart
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Re: Editing as you go: really that bad?

Post by wildheart » April 1st, 2010, 3:24 pm

It depends. For me editing while writing is a bad idea. If I did that...I would never finish anything. But, for others, they need to edit otherwise they get stuck, ect. Do what feels comfortable. No one can tell you that they way you are writing your first draft is wrong.
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