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How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

12 Nov

Announcements:

Today is a guest post for all those who want tips with editing after NaNoWriMo comes to an end, but he wrote an introduction, so without further ado:

How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

Written by Steve Aedy, ghost author and writer for Fresh Essays – team of professionals who provide writing help and editing aid. Steve is an avid reader and wants to try himself in fiction writing. Follow him on Google+.

Well, congratulations, you’ve made through the 30 day NaNoWriMo Challenge! And you’ve survived. However, now you face the somewhat daunting task of editing those 50,000 words.

Can you feel your internal heels digging in at the thought? After all, you know what you wrote. And you recall vividly the gibberish that was typed at the end of those all-nighters, just to hit the day’s word count.

If editing your NaNoWriMo novel seems like an insurmountable task, fear not. Because we’re about to share some advice from the authorities on how to get through the equally challenging task of editing your novel. And, coming out sane on the other end!

If you managed to complete all 50,000 words of the Challenge, then you already know something about how to tackle editing your work. Whatever techniques you used for planning, organization and hitting daily targets in writing your novel will work for editing as well. So, you can simply reverse engineer the process and apply the same steps.

However, if you’re not clear about how to handle editing your opus, follow along the steps described below.

Editing

Start at the Start

Perhaps the biggest challenge in even getting started with editing is the seeming enormity of the project. If this is your first time at self-editing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as though you’re being swallowed in words. As with writing, this is where using a deadline can play an important part.

Without a deadline an editing project seems never-ending, numbing the mind into inaction. With no end in sight, it may be difficult to generate the enthusiasm needed for editing and a deadline will provide the incentive to complete this next, important step. Motivation comes from the daily achievement of your editing tasks and builds momentum as you go along.

The NaNoWriMo forum Now What? takes place during the months of January and February, with a break over December. If you participate, you’ll enjoy all the benefits and support of the other writers, as well as expert advice and ongoing interaction with agents, editors and publishing staff. And of course, the “buddy system” inherent in a forum is a great tool for staying accountable.

The Steps to Editorial Achievement

Take the time to plan the steps you need to meet your editorial deadline. Schedule your time accordingly and decide on the software or editing tools you may want to use. Check out the editing apps and software recommended on Lifehacker for some ideas.

Start with the outline. Hopefully you’ve followed your outline somewhat in the writing stage. Continuing to do so during editing will help to keep your ideas moving, you’ll be able to spot opportunities to introduce foreshadowing and your pacing and rhythm will be smoother.

Do a little warm up by reviewing character studies and research notes, or reading yesterday’s work. This is like priming the pump and pulls your focus and attention into alignment with the day’s editing goals.

Edit daily. The best tactic for staying on top of your editing is to do some of it every day. As part of your plan, have a daily word count or page count that you’re committed to reaching. Celebrate when you do hit your goal, and adjust for improvement when you don’t. It’s only a yardstick, but effective in clocking progress which will keep motivation topped up.

Print a copy for editorial notes. After your initial proofreading, print a copy and write out your editorial notes on the pages. Revise with these initial improvements to prepare for a critical read through by beta readers.

Have your work critiqued with beta readers. The NaNoWriMo forum is excellent for this purpose. And you can always enlist the help of friends, if they can be impartial and give an honest opinion.

Edit and revise again. After your work has gone through the initial beta reading, edit and revise again based on the feedback received.

Proofread, print a fresh copy and edit once again.

Repeat as necessary until you’re satisfied.

Or, if you’re not interested in self-editing or simply don’t have the time, you can always hire the professional services of an editor. You can find some good recommendations and resources for finding editors in this piece at thecreativepenn.com. Hiring an experienced editor has many benefits, a few of which are:

  • A professional editor will be experienced with an objective eye.
  • Editors have insider tips and tricks to smooth out your draft.
  • They’ll have an eye for specifics within your genre, which an inexperienced self-editor may miss.
  • They’ll review your plot and structure with a view to making your novel more publishable.

And to help in the actual process of editing, some tips from the pros:

  • Always run a spell check to catch the basic errors in spelling and grammar.
  • The initial proofread is also the time to watch for mistakes with homonyms: to, too, two etc.
  • The readthrough is a good time to correct any inconsistencies in tense. Double check your dialogue to ensure it remains aligned with the correct tense.
  • With your editors’ specs on, watch for repetition of words and ideas. Try using your word processors “find and replace” tab in the editing toolbar to help catch redundancies.
  • Remove and replace the “to be” verbs with an active voice to give strength to your writing. Remember to show, not tell.
  • Editing is a good time to rediscover your voice, and to ensure it’s well represented in your work. After all, it’s your novel, and should be written in your voice, not someone else’s.
  • Find your rhythm by reading aloud. Reading out loud will help to find the cadence of your words. Make adjustments to maintain consistency when irregularities in tempo occur.
  • Spot check by selecting random chapters to edit. Taken out of context, random reading helps to see your work more objectively and makes it easier to spot errors.

And there you have the basic steps on how to manage the editing of your NaNoWriMo novel. Like the writing Challenge itself, take it one day at a time, keep your sights on the end goal and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating another major achievement on your path to writing success.

Editing Tips

15 Apr

My publications picture has been updated:

All of my publications. :D

All of my publications. 😀

Thank you for your support. I am looking forward to adding to the collection as time continues forward. I also want to take a moment to thank Taking on a World of Words for uploading the picture below to Instagram. They received Minutes Before Sunset in the mail, and she shared the moment with me. These pictures mean a lot to me, so please check out her website.

instambs

As of right now, I am working on editing my next manuscript. (It’s not Death Before Daylight, but that is coming.) I am looking forward to revealing more details about my next manuscript in the future. However, that day is not today. It is tomorrow. (If that sentence seemed strange, there’s a reason for that. You just read my first hint, and that hint reveals a lot if you’ve been with me for a while…or are willing to search through some posts.)

Aside from that, working on this manuscript has reminded me of some editing techniques I have never shared before. Today, I’m sharing my methods that I consider to be unique. However, I will not be talking about the stereotypical ways to edit: read out loud, read backward, and read it again. Okay. We get it. Read it many times and read it in different ways. Having a beta reader and hiring an editor is obvious. I want to discuss editing beyond this because we neglect the unique methods writers use to rewrite and edit. We always talk about how writers all write differently, but we never talk about how writers edit differently. I will also be sharing comments from my Facebook author page.

So we are starting with a completed manuscript. It is written, and “The End” appears at the bottom. But it’s not the end. It’s the beginning of a new process. Depending on the writer and the story, this can be a place where someone completely rewrites a story or where someone just starts an editing job. I am going to write about editing as if we aren’t doing a complete rewrite. The first piece isn’t unique necessarily, but I need to explain it for the other pieces.

1. Create “Final” Notes

I call it “final” because it means you can’t change it after this. Writers have to make a decision, and they have to stick with it. Personally, I make dozens of “final” pages which I actually keep separate from one another so I don’t mix them up. These pages include a final background page for the characters history, a description page that includes physical, emotional, and habitual uses, and finalized maps, so I can make sure that all of my facts are lined up. On my description pages, I even include things like common speech patterns (like if they call a certain character by a nickname only when they are annoyed.) These pages are pages, not one page or one paragraph. I normally have these before I start writing, but – let’s be honest – things change while we write, so it’s often important to go back and make a clear decision on how old that side character was when she met the protagonist (and I check it every time it is brought up in the story, even if I’m pretty sure I’m right.) In my most recent manuscript, I actually kept numerous description pages, because their descriptions changed halfway through the story, but it’s completely up to you how detailed you want to be. I’m sort of a perfectionist, but I will share a story below that explains why I am that way and how these pages saved me.

2. Shoebox Method

I shared this on my author Facebook page, and that’s where I got the idea to write this blog post. I am not a writer who edits on my laptop. I can’t. I need the physical pages in front of me because I think it makes it easier to see everything. Because of this, I have a stack of papers that I must lug around. Most would suggest a three-hole-punch notebook or a folder. I slam my hand on my desk and scream, “Enough.” (For those who watched my poetry reading on YouTube, you might find that statement humorous.) This is what I use:

edittt

I use a sliding shoebox. I never have to punch holes, number pages, or worry about dropping my folder and causing a paper explosion of a disaster. The shoebox also fits other notes, like a dictionary or my “final” notes I was just talking about. Believe it or not, this is also a fantastic excuse to start a conversation in public with potential readers. Someone is bound to ask you why you have a shoebox with you. Take that minute to share your elevator speech and grab a business card out of your back pocket. You just meet a reader.

3. Love Your Office Supplies: Colored pens, sticky notes, etc.

Now that you have the manuscript in front of you (and hopefully a cup of coffee), you are staring at the black and white words with nervous excitement. I used to just grab a pen and go at it, but that turned out to be a mistake when I went back to see what I changed, moved, or corrected. I never use a black pen to edit. The black pen eventually becomes something my eyes skip over. I use red for grammatical errors I come across, but everything else gets its’ own color, too. For instance, I might assign a blue pen to mistakes in the characters – like if I got their history wrong or even if I want to check it later on – but I used purple when I want to move an entire paragraph or scene somewhere else. When I’m moving something, I use sticky notes to mark the place so I don’t forget. We, as writers, never know when we’ll have to take a break, so it’s best to have all the relevant notes in place for when we return. We can’t tell ourselves we will remember because we won’t always remember. Think of all those great ideas we had when we were away from our computers that we later cursed ourselves for because we didn’t write it down. You don’t want this to happen while you’re editing, so write away and write a lot. When I am moving a scene, I even put a check box next to it, so I can check it once I move it.

4. Act Your Scenes Out

Now, if you read my Facebook author page, author, Ryan Attard, said, “Read out loud. Act it out. If it FEELS right, then you’re set. Then, it’s just rereading to correct content.” I love that he said this because I participate in this in many ways. If you want to read more about it, I wrote Writing Tips: Method Acting a while back. I scream my dialogue at myself in the car. I jump around my room and pretend to be different characters. I use place-holders to see if the scenes work, meaning if the characters are facing in the correct directions. (This is where my maps come in handy.) I wouldn’t want my character to storm away to the kitchen by turning to the left when the kitchen should be to his right. Little things like this can matter. For instance, I had a reader realize that the kitchen in the Welborn house is on the second floor during the second novel, Seconds Before Sunrise. She actually went back to the first book, Minutes Before Sunset, to check it and found out that she had read over the information but it was there. If I had changed it, she would’ve caught it, and that would’ve looked like the world wasn’t real.

5. Here are some other answers from authors on my Facebook Author Page:

Join me on FB, and your website might be shared next!

Join me on FB, and your website might be shared next!

I asked, “Do you have any unique ways of editing? What makes it unique? How do you approach editing? This can be a content edit or a grammatical edit.” And here are some responses:

Anthony Stevens: After one or two content edits, where I try to assure a logical flow to the tale, I give it at least two days (sometimes a week) to simmer. When I’m ready, I take my time and slowly read it outloud to myself. Anytime I find myself stuttering or it just doesn’t sound right, I drop back a few paragraphs and try to sort out the problem. It has to sound right out loud before I’ll continue.

Nadia Skye NolanI have an editing checklist. It reminds me to eliminate passive voice and taglines as well as “Lazy descriptors.” I go through my writing and just cut away all the fluff, then I turn it over to my friends and family.

Alexis Danielle Allinson: I do the first couple of edits to weed out errors in my story line, add detail and such. Then I hand it to an editor who doesn’t balk about giving me his 2 cents worth so that the story can be better. We sometimes have lengthy discussions about things I have not written yet because he points out that even though each novel I write is its own story they are all interconnected and if I don’t have it plotted just right I will create a paradox that fan will never forgive me for.

Do you have any methods that stand out? Any advice? Be sure to share below. You might even win a chance to become a guest blogger.

~SAT

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