Wednesday, 18 June 2008

How Many Times to Edit?

Tell Me a Story - writing tip.

AJ, how many times professional writers edit? I was under the impression that professional authors would edit a piece upwards of 10 times before it appears in print.
My friend, however, who has read many interviews with writers, thinks that most professional authors revise only a couple of times before they are done and sometimes don't even do any. I'm confused.
Thanks for writing in, Alice. It's no use submitting a piece of work that you're not happy with. ALWAYS edit until you're satisfied. If you ain't happy, gal, the publisher sure as hell won't be ....

When I'm writing I check over the previous couple of pages before I start (and generally spot something to correct); but reading the previous days work puts me into the correct frame of mind - keeps me on track.
Once my precious work is complete, I edit numerous times. I really can't say how many, probably five or six complete checks. I ruthlessly chop away all excess baggage, every word has to count otherwise it's thrown out.
I check grammar, spelling, timelines, and such things as consistency of names and words (don't use mister at one point and Mr. at another). I make sure all loose ends are tied up, and that all changes have been smoothly incorporated.

As an aside, on the morning that Without Reproach was to be handed over to the publisher, I changed the whole of the first three pages - PANIC!!!
Leaving a story in a raw state.
Some writers brag on internet sites that they don't edit - they claim that editing robs the story of life. I've NEVER subscribed to the idea of a story being at it's best whilst it's RAW.
I shudder at the thought my work in it's raw state. In my opinion that's a lazy writer making excuses ... but when their stories are rejected they say it's because the publisher doesn't understand their ART. Rubbish!
Good editing is what moves a story from the realms of amateur scribblings into that of a professional piece of work.
Polishing your work is vital to make it acceptable to a reader. Hone, hone and hone again. Make your work gleam before offering it to the public - they'll tear it to pieces if you don't.
Looking for a good read? Try:-

Past Sins - Contemporary fiction