The Importance of Editing
This week on the blog I’m talking about editing. Editing can often feel like a daunting task. Maybe you, like me, have moments where you just want to send the story out there as soon as you’ve hit ‘the end’. Here’s some reasons why editing first is so important!
A lot of what will follow may well sound like ‘teaching grandmother to suck eggs’ – sorry if it sounds like that!
However, some of you may be just starting out with editing. Maybe you’re not a writer yourself, but interested in a writer’s process. Or, if you’re like me and deep in edit mode at the moment, you may find a reminder of why we invest so much time in it helpful!
1. Editing improves our stories
It may sound obvious, but editing helps to improve the overall structure of the story. For example, you’ll probably notice during your edits that a character you killed off in chapter three turns up again in chapter five.
Or it might be during editing you realise there’s a whole plot point you never fully explored or resolved. You may even get new ideas when you edit. During the edits of my third historical fiction novel (hopefully published a bit later on this year) I suddenly thought of a twist for the background of one of my minor characters that really helped to flesh out the character.
2. It makes our writing readable
Again, this will sound very obvious – but those edits we spend time doing sharpens our writing and makes our stories accessible. I love this quote:
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that I can later build sandcastles.” Shannon Hale
For many writers, drafting is where the magic happens. That’s when you begin to where you put pen to paper – or words on a screen – and bring to life the story in your mind.
This is magical, certainly. However, I love the magic of Shannon Hale’s quote, too. Editing is when we have all the materials we need and we can craft and chip away and build something beautiful. Like building castles out of sand.
I’m deep in the edits myself at the moment. I’m going through beta reader feedback for my Edwardian era historical mystery novel romance novel which will be free exclusive for newsletter subscribers (more about it here). Recently I also just started editing my fourth Dark Ages historical fiction novel. So, it’s helpful for me to remember this quote if I get bogged down by the edits. I’m trying to build those sand castles!
3. Some editing tips
So, having talked about the importance of editing, here are some tips that may be helpful to remember as we begin those edits!
- Have a break before you start editing
If you can, have a break from your manuscript before and during your edits. Distance means you can come back to your writing with fresh eyes. You may have a new approach for resolving a plot hole, or be able to spot errors better.
- Get other people’s eyes on your manuscript
Feedback is a really helpful part of the editing process. It’s not compulsory to hire an editor or a proofreader, but they are definitely worth considering. Beta readers and ARC readers can also offer invaluable advice.
- You may be in editing for the long haul
It can be tempting to rush through editing, but it’s unlikely you’ll catch everything that needs fixing in one round. Different edits often require different stages and processes. For example, I tend to do a content or developmental edit first – checking the story’s stucture, that everything makes sense, that there are no obvious plot holes etc. Then it turns towards grammatical editing and proofreading.
So, those are some reasons why editing is important and a couple of tips that might be handy to remember. If you’re a writer, do you enjoy editing? Are there any tips that help you in particular? Feel free to drop a comment to let me know!
Thanks for Reading!
Why not sign up to my newsletter? I hope to release my free novel for subscribers in May. Watch this space for more details! In the meantime you can get a free preview of either my first historical fiction novel, The Boy from the Snow, or my fantasy mystery novel, Lottie’s Locket.
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Till next time,