Editing methods

After a general revision of my manuscript – where I wanted to make sure that the story, plot and characters made sense – I’ve started a new round of more in depth revision/editing of my writing. To be honest, I wasn’t actually looking to this stage. I still have memories of endless rounds of editing in a previous manuscript that didn’t end that well (that project is now on standby for the moment). I remember spending a lot of time on individual paragraphs, re-writing the sentences, changing words, sentence order, etc. and making the editing process so long that I began to hate it.

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With this new project, my approach has been very different from the beginning. I had learned lots of lessons from my previous project and I didn’t want to make the same errors on this one. Writing the first manuscript was fun. It took me a lot of time but the process was enjoyable. The story and characters acquired a life of their own which helped me sustain the story until the very end (and unexpectedly with a chance for a second part if some day I decide to do it). I focused first on making sure that the characters were strong and that the story made sense. Later I would worry about the writing. And now the time has come.

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I began editing a couple of weeks ago and surprisingly it hasn’t been that bad. I’m not hating it and I still feel energized enough to continue this lengthy process. For this editing round, I’ve set up a list of what I really want to check in my writing:

  • Punctuation
  • Verbalization – that I’m using strong verbs and that I’m avoiding the “to be” verb whenever possible as I know it makes writing weak. Although, sometimes it makes more sense than any other verb.
  • Adverbs – Following the advice from many writing books, I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible.
  • “Excess” words – detecting those words that don’t add much to the writing, like “very”.
  • Passive voice – trying to get rid of this as much as possible as it also weakens the writing – although not always possible.
  • Order of sentences in a paragraph – Are they in the best order? Could I improve the order.
  • Connection with next paragraph – Does the paragraph ends well? Can I connect the paragraphs better, making it more interesting and prompting the reader to continue reading further?

There are many other “factors” to consider when editing your own writing and I know I haven’t considered all of them. But I wanted to only take into account the ones that I consider the most important ones. I didn’t want to re-write all the words thinking of all possible grammatical issues/improvements and fall into a never ending process again.

Aside from that, I’m using three tools to help me with the points above:

http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ to help you detect passive voice, adverbs, long sentences, etc

https://www.naturalreaders.com/online/ – this tool reads out loud your paragraphs. It’s very helpful as listening a voice read your text makes it easier to detect if the writing sounds good, if there are some weird structures, and if the sentences could be ordered better.

Grammarly – I’m using the free browser version that detects misspellings and basic punctuation and grammatical structure. It sort of double-checks the same as the Hemingway App. There is a paid version but too expensive for me right now.

Do you know of other free tools that might also help in this process?

What else do you consider that it’s important to check when revising your writing?

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One paragraph at a time in a never ending editing process

I finally finished my first manuscript of a fantasy novel I’ve been working for almost a year. I learned many lessons the last time I worked with a manuscript, one is that finishing the first manuscript is only a small step in achieving a readable book. Numerous rounds of editing and revision come after this, and they can become endless. They are not the nicest part of writing a book, at least not for me.

Last time I learned that before going into heavy editing, it is better to have a manuscript that you like, one where you feel satisfied with the story, the plot makes sense, you like the characters and they are likable. I learned that you have to be happy with what you wrote. You will need people who read your work, people who will criticize the plot, the characters and tell you how does the story feel. You will probably get lots of suggestions and you might need to rewrite chapters a couple of times more. Last time I understood there was no need to get into heavy editing if you were still working on the story development.

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But for the first round of people who will read your work, you have to have a manuscript that is readable. This is the reason I felt I needed one round of revision for plot consistency, character check, setting description, and at least decent writing – a writing that will still be workable and can , of course, be improved.

I’m not going for restructuring sentences, changing verbs, or more in depth editing, but it is still taking time. A lot of it. Somehow my first manuscript has managed to end with around 110 000 words or around 410 pages, and even though I’m doing a “quick revision” it still takes time. I still have a full time job and other activities, but I’m trying to find at least one hour a day to work on this. In an hour I usually deal with 5 or 8 pages, which means it is taking a lot of time. I told a friend I would be giving her the book for her critique around February, but it is already March and I haven’t reached the middle of the book with this “quick editing.”

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However, the writing process works this way, there is no easy path. Each day I’m a couple of pages done. A couple of pages more than yesterday, one paragraph more than before. I feel like doing tiny steps, but at least the steps are being given. And If I’m a couple of paragraphs done each day, then I guess it will come a time when I will finish the manuscript. One paragraph at a time. After all, writing is about the process itself.

And you how do you deal with rounds of editing?

Editing services, why you need to love them! and the theory of the Leprechaun that lives in our heads.

Writers are strange creatures, stranger than you think. And the wannabe ones, like me, are even worst (For example, I just passed some work colleagues in the corridor and forgot to say “hello” why? ’cause I was thinking about some feedback I received from a query letter) They know I’m weird, but I didn’t intend to be impolite… sigh… I guess I must learn to detach from the fiction world and improve my social skills. (now you have a hint of why I have “loner” in the name of my blog)
But anyway, no more self analysis, and let’s go straight to the objective of this post: why you have to love editing services.

– Because writers are strange creatures (and back again to the first paragraph). We believe that when we write and we review like a thousand times, there’s no way we’re going to let a typo/grammar mistake slip away. After all, we’ve reviewed like ten times, we read it aloud, we passed the spell checker, we reviewed it again, and we read it again. And we think, the sentence is perfect. But wrong, the editor returns it with red everywhere and a typo that makes you just want to cringe under the bed. And you believe, Oh my god, this is embarrassing. I’m supposed to know the basics of writing. The editor must think I’m five years old.

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But, yes, the dreaded “but” This is completely normal. I’ve learned to embrace Editing. We really need that set of extra eyes, you know why? because there’s a leprechaun that inhabits our brains and tells us our writing is perfect. (see? I told you, we’re strange creatures). That leprechaun is the result of writing our own world, our story, our characters and revising them continuously. We know our story too much. Continue reading “Editing services, why you need to love them! and the theory of the Leprechaun that lives in our heads.”

Editing/Revision is done! I’m back and have learned very good lessons!

Well, it´s been more than a couple of weeks since I haven´t written a post, and I was really looking forward to do it. Do you remember I was stuck trying to finish the editing of my book? Well, these weeks have been plain hard work, not much sleep, zero weekends, zero days off, until yesterday I finished the editing/revision process.

Editing Revision

I left many other activities (like writing on this blog) pending until I could totally finish with the editing.
So now the book is with my beta readers, and I´m going to take the opportunity to get up to speed with the blog and many other activities I left behind – social ones specially and house chores! I don´t have an excuse for them anymore 😦
I´ve learned many wonderful lessons in this process of writing my first novel that I would like to share it with you:
1. It´s not easy at all! But possible, and that should be enough encouragement
2. The only way to improve your writing is by writing.

3. I was born to be planner in writing. I got so confused with my plot that when I started my revisions I only found inconsistencies and parts of the plot that I absolutely forgot or left hanging lose. I think that for the next time, I´d rather plan the plot beforehand.
4. Characters must live in your head, and thus you must really make an effort to make them believable. For my next time I intend to plan them ahead (for others it may work to let them flourish while writing but not for me) Believe me I tried to be the spontaneous writer, but I´ve realized I belong to the ones who plan.

Character plot

I´m excited for all these lessons and I can´t wait to start my next project. I have the feeling that next time it will be easier. And during all these months (9 months) I´ve managed to keep a little notebook with dozens of ideas for new novels, so it seems I´ll be quite busy for a time.
I don´t know if this book I´ve finished, which until now, remains with the name of “They´re watching us” will ever be published. But even if it never gets published, I think the most important reward here is the learning process and the confidence I acquired is priceless, and I´m feel really happy and optimistic about that.

writing process
I´ll try to keep you with updates of this book and what happens to it (if anybody wants to join my beta readers, let me know)

In the meanwhile, I´m so happy to be back!

Energy level while editing your work

Editing can exhaust you. I’m still on the editing stage of my writing and I found it hard, really hard.

I find myself wishing I could only write, write, and write as many stories as possible… and have somebody else do all the editing stuff. Of course, this poor being, the “editing person” wouldn’t understand a sh**t of my writing since my first drafts tend to be terrible.

Writing Editing

Editing is taking all my energies. Why? (Please consider this is my first time editing my work, so maybe next time the process will change a lot, a.k.a. I intend to write much better first drafts) So why do I struggle so much with it? These are the main focus points of my editing:

  • In my editing, I delve into characters as much as possible
  • I try to make pacing well…. The right pacing

In delving into my characters…

As Stephen King says, we should write with the door closed and edit with the door opened. Well, since I wrote with the door closed, I managed to convince myself to edit with the door opened. This situation has taken me to uncomfortable situations described below.

I find myself doing these weird actions:

ACTION speaking the dialogs out loud to spot my tone voice, the accuracy of words (meaning if they really sound as “dialog” and not as boring description), and the feeling of each phrase in general.

RESPONSE Some scared people circulating in my house watching me speak in a foreign language while whining, screaming, shouting (or doing whatever my character is doing)

Characters Editing Characters Editing

ACTION trying to feel inside my character, be my character, step into his shoes, mind, whatever there is to step into.

RESPONSE Again some disturbed people in my house watching me making faces to a mirror as I try to look sad, happy, etc.

Writing Editing

But besides the fact that people in my house are already looking for a psychiatric institution for me, what is the problem with delving into characters?

I get exhausted. After only a couple of pages, sometimes only one or two… I feel all my energy lost,   making it very difficult to make progress in my writing. (I have set up a goal of at least 10 pages per day)

And what about the right pacing?

This point has got me erasing tons of paragraphs, adding tons of new ones, and probably erasing them the next day again. I feel I still need to find a “technique” in this.

In some paragraphs, action scenes and characters would move too fast without giving too much thought to feelings, etc., for example, “the man grabbed the knife, stabbed three times and run….”

But in other scenes, I will find myself describing every lash of anger, every tensed muscle of a character’s body.

The result, a weird pacing….

I’m trying to find a balance here.  I found that it actually depends on my mood… and how long I’ve been editing that day.  In other words, I start with energy at its peak, writing strong character-driven scenes, and after an hour or so, I just want to narrate the scenes as fast as possible.


So, the idea of this post is to get as much feedback as possible. Many of you have already been through this or at least have more experience than me.

What do you do to Not get exhausted so fast when you’re feeling too much inside a character’s head?

How do you deal with pacing? Is it common to start with full energy and then just get bored? Would you recommend me to shorten the amount of pages I had set up as a goal for editing per day?