Monday, July 12, 2010
Edits, Edits, Who’s Got The Edits?
What is your editing process? As a writing team, ours is probably different from what you might do. Basically, Arwen starts a story – writing 1500 words. She happily sends it off to Cai then sits back waiting for the accolades to roll in. (Of course, it could be Cai who starts the story, in which case, just reverse all the names below. LOL)
Cai whips out her proverbial red pen and proceeds to edit the snot out of Arwen’s clichés and grammar mistakes. She then adds 2500 brilliant words and sends it back to Arwen just knowing that Arwen is going to delightedly accept the changes and breeze through her additions.
Arwen growls as she admits to 75% of Cai’s changes as being good, but fights back on 25%. Then Arwen hauls out her tarot deck to heavily correct Cai's plot gaps and character flaws. She then adds the best 500 words of her life and hits “send.”
Cai accepts 10% of Arwen's rejections on her original edits. Then she sighs and accepts 75% of Arwen's edits while massaging her temples and fighting back on 25%. She reads the minimal effort from Arwen and decides to wait a day or so before adding or editing any more. Adding another 2500 words after a few days, Cai sends the whole shebang back to Arwen and waits with bated breath for Arwen to read/edit and send it back again.
By the time we reach the end of the first draft, we've got a pretty good handle on what is working and what scenes need to be completely re-worked. All silliness aside, this is how we edit as we go without rewriting the same three pages ad infinitum. We find that this gives us a fairly clean first draft. Then we can spend time going back over the whole manuscript tightening character development and making sure our GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) for each character is fully developed.
When we're both ready to call it “done,” our next step is to find a beta reader or two. We think we know where the weak spots are, so we ask our beta readers to concentrate on those areas, but also to point out anything else they come across in their reading that jars them out of the story for whatever reason. With their suggestions in mind, we read the story with fresh eyes and make whatever changes we feel will strengthen the story. In the end, that is what is the most important. What makes the story truly work.
Then and only then are we ready to send it off to an editor with a query letter attached. So what is YOUR process? Do you write, edit, write some more? Or do you write the entire manuscript then go back and edit each scene, each chapter, etc., Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts.