Don’t Over Edit… Pt. 2 ~
One of the easiest things to do in anticipation of your first edit is to research. Research what? Writing “Best Practices” from online blogs (like this one) and Writers Magazines who show you how you can improve the impact of your plot, the resilience of your characters, the strengths of your scenes, and so much more.
Trying too many new ideas at this stage of the game is more likely to confuse both you and your beta readers (when they get their hands on draft two).
But you need to edit – so how do you when enough is enough?
I say, read all the editing help magazines and sites you can BUT make a list of the most poignant tips… that’s poignant to you and your work. And that’s the biggest difference. You need to be able to critically look at what you’ve written and determine on some level where you think the most ‘work’ needs to be done.
When I did this for the first time, I had a list of 7 tips I felt spoke to the improvement of my book at that stage. Most of the tips revolved around maintaining suspense, character development & depth and believability. For me, these were crucial and unbalanced areas in my first draft. I went on in later drafts to hone plot and tighten scenes etc. but those items were not going to help in the early stages of drafting.
You can read through your work and get a sense of what is and isn’t quite working (which I would recommend at any time) or hand a tuned-up version of draft one (making sure character names are consistent, chapters are number or named, and huge chunks of back story are reduced) to either an editor for a content critique or a trusted beta reader who’s not afraid to be honest with you. This outside perspective can help to give you a fresh look at your story and understand what it is that others are seeing, or not as the case may be, and then develop your own tips lists from their feedback.
Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed with all the assorted tips and advice out there (or here) and become discouraged or suddenly a paratrooping-writer where you’re dropping new ideas and rewrites everywhere in your manuscript. Remember, you’re more of a surgeon than a soldier.
It’s about craft and precision more so than battle cries and bombs (although occasionally they have their place).
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