First round of edits - a long way to go!

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by candy_luminous » June 20th, 2011, 5:23 am

Am I alone, or is the first thorough round of edits to a full novel really heavy going? There's heaps out there about how it can be hard to keep writing the novel in the first place, or hard to get a query to a decent stage, impossibly hard to find an agent - but I haven't come across many people talking about how it's tough going back to your finished or almost finished novel and trying to take it from rough first draft to the shiny amazing dreamworld in your head... Anyone else out there in the same boat? For me, at least, it seems like there is such a long way to go...

I'd also be interested in people's opinions about whether it's best to get a couple of people to look at the first rough draft for their opinions, or wait to show people until you think you've edited it reasonably well and then get feedback. I'm hesitant to show it to anyone at the moment because I feel like it's so rough, but at the same time I can imagine showing it to someone later and realising I missed a stack of things in my first go round that I could have picked up if I had been a bit braver. Thoughts? What do you usually do?

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 20th, 2011, 9:01 am

First: CONGRATS on getting this far!!!! No, you are not alone, first round of edits are usually pretty tough, but the results are so awesome, you know?

Second: I personally fall into the camp that I think you should wait to have people read it until after you've gone through revisions and a second draft, but every book is different and every writer is different. What you have after your first round of edits might be fantastic and ready to go, but I like to work out all the problems *I* see first before I have someone else eyeball it. It seems like asking my readers to do a lot less work that way.

Good luck! This is a very exciting time, my favorite actually, when everything starts to actually look like what you want it to look like. It might still be rough, but you can finally see the shape of something inside.
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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Quill » June 20th, 2011, 10:55 am

Indeed it can be a tough road to take a story from first inspiration to that "shiny dreamworld" one sees in one's head. And I agree with Sommer that it works well to get the thing close to one's vision of it before sharing.

I wrote the first draft of my current WIP some years ago, then last year took it through three drafts of revision, and this year am doing two polishing drafts. All before sharing with readers. No need to waste their time pointing out weaknesses I already see.

I've got enough confidence in my story to believe it holds up, so I'm not looking for a basic reality check on it. But maybe you are, for yours. So, it depends.

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Holly » June 20th, 2011, 11:25 am


As far as asking people to read a first draft, it depends on the readers. I run first draft material by several people (in small amounts) and get great feedback on plot holes, unrealistic character reactions, etc. You just don't want to wear people out if you're going to ask the same ones to read it later.

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Leonidas » June 20th, 2011, 1:01 pm

How everyone edits is a little bit different. Personally, for me, first draft edits include a lot of rewrites, which are then re-edited. I wrote my WiP for NaNoWriMo, so I'm just starting to work on it again. I reread what I wrote for NaNo and then I rewrite it. Then I edit it myself, and after that I show it to one person who has seen everything (even the really crappy NaNo-draft). This is the only person I show it to. She has a good eye for grammar and spelling, but I'm generally solid on that, so she reads it for anything glaring with the characters or scenes. Once she reads it, I work in any suggestions that both she and I agree on.

Then I keep writing and the process eventually repeats itself.

However you go about your first draft edits, it's going to be difficult, but it's also really fun; you can allow yourself to rediscover your world and your characters and, most of the time, you see them in new ways.

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Leila » June 20th, 2011, 2:53 pm

Congrats, it's a great place to be!

I'd have to second Sommer's views on when to have people read through your story. I say that because to me, first round edits are simply that. First round. It's the first chance you have to take off your writer's hat and put on an editing one. Unless you are the sort of person who edits as you go I guess. Me personally, I just enjoy the writing then go to editing when the first draft is complete. And at first round stage, I find I'm still sorting out the rough spots, the bits that maybe don't quite gel, or are too long, or haven't got enough show and a bit too much tell, or, or, or. Then I need to read through the draft again when I've made those changes to see how the whole story now flows. Then I might pick up some other stumbling points or points of disconnect or pov issues, or, or. Anyway, you see where I'm going with this right? So by the time I've sorted the story out for me, and it all flows from every angle, I'm quite a few edits in and quite a bit of time has passed to allow me to keep perspective on the overall flow of the story. I say all of that because I think if you feel really clear about your story, that it has all the ingredients in it for you to say I think this is as I want it to be now I'm ready to see how others receive it, then that's the time to release it to whomever you trust to provide constructive, valuable, useful feedback.

On another note, I actually really enjoy the editing process. It's quite a different set of skills one employs and it really makes you face your work from quite a different angle than writing does. I hope you enjoy the whole process right up until you feel your work is smooth, shiny and polished, polished, polished!

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by marion » June 21st, 2011, 4:37 am

I was terrified by the edit process. Terrified by the idea of facing up to my imperfections, for one thing!And by the gargantuan task, for another thing.
I did nothing for many months. Which is stressful, of course, because you're beating up on yourself for not doing any work.
Then I did one new chapter which solved some problems in an old chapter.
Some months later (i.e. a few days ago) I started a revised chapter which takes a totally new approach to 3 or 4 old chapters, not only condensing them into one but also making them shine. What I learned in writing this chapter is like a template for the whole revision process, I think.
And today I did a totally new tiny chapter.
So now I'm psyched. My months of inactivity were partly the result of major stuff happening in my life. And partly just the percolation process. New ideas were brewing in the back of my mind.

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by Rosie Lane » June 21st, 2011, 10:56 am

My crit partner used to send me drafts every step of the way. It became a problem because I got burned out on the material and lost track of what I had read this time versus last time versus the time before that, and I ended up unable to contribute anything meaningful on structural issues. I would suggest you make a couple of passes over it yourself before sending it out, unless you plan to ask different people to look at it each time.

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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by sierramcconnell » June 21st, 2011, 5:31 pm

Congrats for reaching the insanity phase~! :lol:

I'm one of those crazy people that happen to love the edit process. The scratching through the MS with a red ink pen one, two, three times. Oh, it's loverly.

It's the rewrite I can't get off my butt to do. XD

Now if I could only get my brain to work out some summaries. I did get a full summary on that one book the other day. But I need it for this one and that one, too...
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Re: First round of edits - a long way to go!

Post by candy_luminous » June 22nd, 2011, 7:01 am

Oh, my gosh, thankyou so much everyone! This is so good to hear. I did the meat and bones of the drafting during Nanowrimo last year when there were lots of other people around who were also writing, but since then the community has dropped off somewhat and going into editing felt incredibly isolated. So it is great to hear that so many other people have been there and get it!

Starting the editing process after a 6 month break from the novel does feel like going back to a place I absolutely love, while at the same time like starting to attack a very dirty piece of silver with a tiny polishing cloth. I'm very critical of my own work (that's what comes of being a trained editor AND lawyer, yeesh) so I can see many problems with the piece and I know it has a long way to go, which feels exhausting. At the same time, I am very happy sending my brain off to that world to fix things up for a while. So I guess it is just a matter of keeping on going, and trying not to spend too much time thinking about how it isn't yet what I want it to be.

It's really good to hear that my instincts were on the money about sending it round to people to look at too early. I already know there's lots to fix! I look forward to looking for a critique partner around these parts when I'm closer to having something readable in my hands.

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