Handling Edits One Bite at a Time
by Tari Faris, @FarisTari
Every writer knows that if they hang around very long in this industry they will have to go through edits. So I wasn’t surprised to receive a book back with but I really had no concept of what that would look like.
But when I got my book back with over three thousand Track Changes it was a bit overwhelming. I guess I assumed that the edits would be more along the lines of adding commas and making sure words weren’t spelled wrong.
Those edits were there. But then there were the edits like, “How come she knows his family so well but never has seen the inside of his house?” Hmm. Good question. Not an impossible question but something that probably needs to be clarified.
Or “Why does she keep saying that they broke up weeks ago but from what I tracked it was only days?” Again, it was an easy fix but I obviously dropped ball on anchoring at one point.
Or “Do you realize that she massages her temple with her third finger about six times in the book. Is it a nervous habit?” Hmmm, no, so I should probably change some of those.
And when there are over 3000 of these on a 50,000-word document it can be overwhelming. But don’t fear I have three tips for handling your edits.
One chapter at a time – This may seem obvious but don’t sit down and try to do it all at once. Edit one chapter and then give yourself a break doing something away from your computer. I find editing harder on my eyes than writing so give yourself some sensory rest. Or at least eye rest.
Go for a walk. Do the dishes. Play with your dog.Skip the tough ones on the first pass. On my first pass, if I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it, or if the fix would take longer than a few added words, I skipped it. But that allowed me to quickly handle all the obvious ones (add a comma, wrong tense, you used the wrong type of quote) with a few clicks. After my first pass, I had trimmed my changes from 3176 down to 407. That is an 87% reduction. Also, when I went back for my second pass, I had already seen the harder questions and I was ready to answer them.
But even on this pass, I find a few I am still skipping until a third pass. Don’t feel like you have to take it in one bite.Finally, set goals and rewards along the way. Face it, just like facing the white page can be daunting so can edits. Find a motivator and reward your self after a chapter, pass, or when you have completed the edit.
Edits. We all have to face them but be encouraged. You can do this one step at a time.
Now, you go write and I will head back to my edits.