Editing Tip #72 – Editing for Flow

Editing for Flow ~

Ink is my Obsession by minzile on deviantart

Ink is my Obsession by minzile on deviantart

Not everyone has the luxury of writing a book all in one go – be it over a few months or within one year. In those cases, depending on how much your writing is evolving, your narrative voice and writing style isn’t likely to change much.

Now, what about those projects that are starts and stops over a longer period of time or a great start three years ago, life happens and now you’re just getting back to you manuscript? More than likely your writing style has changed and the later half of your book only slightly resembles the writing of the first half.

What do you do?

You’ve got three options:

1) Pay someone to make it work

2) Do a lot of rewriting

3) Move on to another project

There are benefits and drawbacks to each option but I’d like to look closely at #2:

Do a lot of Rewriting

Any writer worth their salt won’t be satisfied with the disconnect between their earlier writing and their most recent writing. Often times it takes more than just fixing tense usage and sentence structure to get both styles to blend seamlessly – you need to look at how you impart information.

That’s analysing your craft on a molecular level and often times you can make the colour blue turn orange no matter how hard you try.

In those cases the rule of thumb is to rewrite.

Look through the scene or chapter in question, note the arc you’re focusing on (what’s important and why) and then copy and paste your favourite lines, bits of description and dialogue onto a new page. Then, open another entirely new page and start writing it over again.

I know! Twice the work… but it’ll be worth it.

Sometimes there’s no salvaging old writing but the core idea is integral to the book. So you start from scratch but with help – those copied lines you saved. As you rewrite that all important chapter so that it reads like your newer work, when you reach a spot where you know you’ve saved a line – add it in. Sometimes it’ll work great, sometimes you’ll need to build a better transition and sometimes you’ll need to restructure that piece you saved.

Them’s the breaks. Sometimes blending the old and the new is not easy. This process will definitely test your mettle.

When it comes right down to it, the reason you decided not to pass your work off to a ghost writer, over-zealous editor or stuff it back in the desk drawer is your belief in the story. You need to get it right, to fix it and that takes time and patience.

Happy Editing 🙂


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Categories: Editing

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