Editing the “Final” Draft

10 Jul

This month, I’m covering my editing process. If you haven’t read the first two steps—My Editing Process Starts in My Writing Process and Editing (Rewriting) the First Draft—then check those out now. Today is the last post about editing, but, as always, feel free to ask questions! We are discussing the “final” draft.

The “Final” Draft

So you have a solid manuscript. This means you have written, rewritten, and revised everything a couple of times. You’ve checked your weak spots and tightened your prose and wrote the best damn thing you could write. Awesome! But the editing process is not over. This part of my editing process focuses more on grammar than anything else, but as usual, I almost always continue to edit my prose. I might find weak sentences or (gasp) a contradiction in my story. That’s okay. It’s important to not get deterred, but there’s a few things you can do to help yourself out in this stage.

Here’s some photos from my editing process! (Cats are necessary.)

Print it Out

There’s only so much you can accomplish on the computer. You might think you can see all of your errors on your laptop, but trust me, reading your work through a different medium will show you new mistakes. On a side note, you can also try to read your book in a different font or color before you print it out. I tend to print it out when I know I still have a lot of editing to do, including rewrites. Why? Because I love to physically cut up my manuscript and shift things around. (This might be a result of passive-aggressive behavior, also known as rage writing, but it helps.) I’m also obsessed with different colored pens. I’ll use one for grammar, another for story issues, and another one that has authority over my other pens. (Like if I change my mind about a particular edit.) Other office supplies that come in handy include binder clips, paperclips, and Sticky Notes. But—basically—get physical with your “final” copy. Feeling it in your hands might help you feel better, too. The weight of all those pages can be a little overwhelming, but think of all you’ve accomplished! You. Are. Awesome.

Read Out Loud

I cannot stress how important this is…Though, I also want to admit that I used to NEVER do this. I thought it was one of those writing tips that could be skipped over. I mean, reading it out loud seems like it would take a long time. And it does. I won’t lie to you. Reading my manuscript out loud is probably the most time-consuming task in my editing process, but I also learn more than ever when I read out loud. I stumble over awkward sentences. I hear unrealistic dialogue. And I reread the same sentences over and over again, just to check the flow of the overall section or piece. Reading out loud, or listening to your book out loud, will help you discover more than you realize.

Check Back In With Those Notes

Remember all those notes that you took in the first two steps? Read through them again. Get to know every inch of your manuscript and make sure each thread is carried out consistently and accurately. In regards to grammar, keep a list of issues you know you struggle with. If you’re constantly switching then and than around, check every single one of them, and then check again. I am super bad about soldier, for instance, though I think my computer is the one autocorrecting my typing to solider. Knowing yourself—and your technology—will help you find mistakes faster…which means you get to that final draft quicker, too. Though, don’t forget, editing is NOT a race. Do not rush it. Take your time. Breathe. Ask for help. And keep going until you have that final draft you love.

Finally, Why Final is “Final”

No matter how many times you edit your own work, you will have to edit it again. Take publishing as an example. When you complete a manuscript and submit it to an agent, they might request a Revise & Resubmit. Even if they offer representation, chances are they are going to go through some edits with you before they submit to editors…and when you’re chosen by an editor, chances are they will have additional editing notes for you to work with…and then, it’ll be out in the world and there will still (inevitably) be mistakes. So new editions will have corrections. And editions after that will have even more corrections. (They were finding mistakes in the fifth edition of Harry Potter, for instance.)

Your work will never be perfect, and while you should always strive to create the best product possible, you should strive to embrace the editing process more…because you’re going to be editing often. 

I try to think of editing as another writing process. That way, it feels more fun and less overwhelming. Taking breaks between edits has helped me immensely and so has falling in love with new office supplies.

Create rituals, take care of yourself, and keep writing.

Editing is just another part of your publishing journey.

Embrace it.

~SAT

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10 Responses to “Editing the “Final” Draft”

  1. anthonystevens July 10, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    There is an old saying among programmers. “No project is ever finished; merely abandoned.” Methinks that applies to novels as well. We want our babies to be perfect, but there really is no such thing.

    • Shannon A Thompson July 10, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

      That is so true! I like that phrase, too. Thank you for sharing. 🙂
      ~SAT

  2. Don Massenzio July 10, 2017 at 9:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this helpful post from Shannon A Thompson’s blog on editing the “final draft”

  3. Elise @ Roaming Reader July 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    I love these editing posts! I would never think to read my manuscript out loud but that’s a good tip. I’ve heard people say to copy and paste your essays into a text to speech and listen to it because it’ll help you find mistakes.

    • Shannon A Thompson July 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed them, Elise! Reading out loud has really helped me, and I hope you enjoy it, too! I’ve also heard to listen to it through a text-to-speech app. I haven’t tried that one yet, but I should. 🙂
      ~SAT

  4. Adan Ramie July 11, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    Perfection over progress is a motto I embraced when I decided to become a “recovering” perfectionist, instead of worrying my way through life. It’s important to make sure you’re putting out the best book possible, and these tips will definitely help a writer to do so, but for indie authors, I don’t think many post-publication revisions can feasible. We have to write, publish, rinse, and repeat – or we won’t have the kind of backlist we need to make a living.

    The TL;DR version: Great tips! Polish the manuscript until it shines, then let it go. Hovering over a manuscript forever does not a career make.

    Thanks for the tips, Shannon! Loved this editing series.

  5. Rob Warwick July 16, 2017 at 6:10 am #

    A very nice post. I often think that editing is the forgotten twin of writing. My favourite of your list is reading aloud, although my family might not agree. I also find it helpful to find a critical friend. I do like the above comment ‘No project is ever finished; merely abandoned’, but at least some of our projects are abandoned publicly – for good or ill.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. When Your Writing Issue Is… | Shannon A Thompson - July 24, 2017

    […] Editing Process Starts in my Writing Process, Editing (Rewriting) the First Draft, and Editing the “Final” Draft—but try not to feel overwhelmed or down. Editing is another part of the writing process. You’ll […]

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