Entering the world of editing

I love to write. It comes naturally to me.  It has for as long as I remember.  I can sit down at my trusty laptop, and after an hour or two walk away with a few thousand works of story, essay, blog post, or whatever else I happen to have been writing.  Now, this isn’t to say I don’t experience days where I just can’t write.  But even then, usually it’s an issue with something other than writing – once I actually sit down to write, the words just flow so easily that sometimes I can forget that it took me three hours to even begin writing.

Editing though, editing is another story.

Don’t get me wrong, I know how to edit.  I even sometimes like to edit.  But when it comes to this sort of editing, the proper, ‘I want to get this manuscript of ideas and love that’s been part of my life for seven years to the point where it could be published’ editing,  I’m not prepared for.  Until now, every edit (and believe me, there are been many) has been for a sort of vague ‘sometime, someday’ goal, and if I’m being honest has mostly just been for my own benefit, a way of allowing me to keep exploring the world I’ve created and the characters I still find as fascinating as the day they popped into my head.  So I suppose, really, it isn’t the process of editing that I find so daunting, but the realisation that at the end of this I’ll be looking for beta readers, and maybe even exploring the world of publication.  The realisation that this may in fact be the first step to turning my dreams into a reality.  A very final reality.

So that’s where I am.  My manuscript has been printed off, hole-punched, and placed into a plain black binder (along with MS2 – but that’s for a later date).  I’ve already begun to think about the plot, what I know I need to change, what I desperately want to keep.  The characters are coming back to life after their summer hibernation, reminding me of their most important scenes, the points I missed, the details I perhaps should take out.  My manuscript and research is all organised into a new Scrivener binder ready to be rewritten, edited, and pulled apart.  My desk is stocked with highlighters, coloured pens, and sticky notes.  I am, for all intents and purposes, ready.

To begin with, I will spend the next few days simply reading my story, re-familiarising myself with the manuscript as a whole before I split it into chapters and begin the proper edits.  Then, next week, the real stuff begins.

But, as someone who loves to learn, I’m always looking for tips.  How do you edit? Chapter by chapter? One massive reading to begin with and then going back over sections as they appeal to you, ignoring chronology all together?  Do you need to have a hard copy version, or can you do everything from your screen? Any tried and true traditions you live by when it comes to editing?  Let me know!

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