Greetings and welcome back to my Writer's Life series on what to do with the story idea you have. Today’s blog is the fifth in a series of ten. If you’re just now joining in, you can find the complete answer in brief (with links to the detailed versions) at the end of today’s post.
So … editing.
At its most basic, editing is the practice of modifying a written work for the purpose of making it better. This involves a variety of techniques, such as adding and cutting material, tightening sentence and plot structures, and strengthening sensory details and imagery, just for starters.
Some writers enjoy this part of the process because they find it easier to improve upon something that already exists than to create something from nothing. Other writers find this step to be about as pleasant as a root canal, never mind the fact that it’s a necessary step in the creation of a manuscript.
As with all parts of writing, editing is a process. Rather than an exercise that’s only completed once, editing your story requires multiple passes through your manuscript, with planned breaks in between each pass. You determine ahead of time how long you will go without working on the project after each edit. This down-time is crucial for helping you come to each edit with fresh perspective, and the pre-determined amount of time away helps avoid procrastination.
There are many different ways to go about the business of editing; as many as there are writers. The best thing to do is to build your own method by trying what works for others and gleaning the bits that work for you. Two of the resources in my library that offer insight into building your own process are:
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Brown and Dave King
A caveat before I end: If you are traditionally published, you can expect the publishing house to have approximately three different editors take a look at your work: a content editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader. If you are independently published, you can hire these professional editors yourself. However, it is important that you do the best you can to edit as much as you can of your own work before you submit it to an editor. This will help insure that the people being paid to look at your manuscript do not waste their time and money on sifting through mistakes that could have easily been corrected by you. Additionally, if you hope to be traditionally published, you should know that, in most cases, no publishing house will even consider a manuscript that is not edited as well as it can be before submission. This means, in every circumstance, it is important that you the author take the time to self-edit your work until it is as good as you can possibly make it.
As promised above, here's the complete list of what to do with your story idea:
1. Write down everything you know about the story idea. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything to add. (Read more here.)
2. When you’re not writing, work on your social media platform. Develop your on-line presence authentically, in a way that is genuine. (Read more here.)
3. Go back to your idea. Organize everything you wrote in step one into something with structure and shape. Turn that collection of ideas into a plan and begin your first draft. (Read more here.)
4. Start a website. A blog is good because it gives readers a taste of your writing, but if you feel that you can’t commit to a blog, then you need to have a website at the very least. (Read more here.)
5. Edit your first draft. Complete this step as often as necessary.
6. Start an e-mail list.
7. Enlist alpha readers who will give you story feedback.
8. Once your book is as polished as you can get it, enlist someone else to edit it.
9. Decide how you want to publish (indie or traditional) and study the process. Learning the necessary details will save you a lot of time and, potentially, a lot of money in the long run.
10. Start the next story!