Editing Tip #60

Don’t Over Edit… Pt. 3 ~

trapped_inside_by_leoriq-d6ithtiThe easiest trap to fall into is getting stuck in the mind-set that “it has to be perfect” before you’ll let yourself move on. You might think that this kind of over editing is  too much attention to detail – having too much in mind when you’re looking at a particular passage. I actually consider this editing without focus.

If you find yourself going over the same moments again and again crossing things out, adding words and phrases you took out before and have decided to put back in again – stop the presses! You need to look at each passage or scene as a grouping of text with a specific purpose.

Read it

Decide which three main elements it might be lacking in

Consider how those elements relate to the rest of the chapter

Consider how those elements relate to the rest of the book

Highlight the areas that aren’t quite up to snuff

Focus on those areas looking at one elements at a time

It’s all about layering. If we try to do too much or keep too much alive at the front of our mind while trying to edit, invariably we’ll forget something or give ourselves a headache juggling everything at once. For each of the three elements you’ve identified, go back and address one at a time – get that one item as close to perfect as possible and then move on to the next.

Once you’ve looked at your passage three times, read it over a fourth and final time to make sure that each element balances as it should. If after one stint at balancing everything out it still doesn’t feel right, make note of it and move on.

Don’t linger any longer.

You now need time away from that passage and need to give your brain something new to focus on. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of falling into that loop where you take things out and put them back in again, and again and again.

Once you’ve done this with all of the areas that most concern you. Leave it alone. Put it away for a month or give it to one of your trusted early draft beta readers or a writing buddy. When you come back to it a few weeks or a month or more later –

DON’T LOOK AT YOUR NOTES.

Don’t do it. Just read it through and consider what your beta reader has said or not said as the case may be.

If they and you are still feeling like a certain passage isn’t quite working the way it should, then go back to your personal notes and compare.

Take one last stab at getting it right and then pass your work onto your editor (professional or personal). If we let ourselves keep trying to get it perfect, our books would never get finished 😉

Happy Editing!


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