There’s that moment, indescribable but sought after by any writer, when you enter that last period and type in the words ‘The End’ in act of triumphant satisfaction. You finished! Your story is complete, the character arcs and plot lines all tied up neatly and any dangling ends snipped into a tidy bow with the soft clicks of your keyboard.
Or . . . Not.
Just as writers know how gratifying finishing the first draft of any work can be, they also know that what lays ahead for them is the twisting, long, and sometimes treacherous road of editing that first draft into a final draft. Sometimes, it can be such a daunting process to set out on that we writers will avoid it, spending our time conjuring up ideas for our next manuscript or browsing online for a little splurge to mark the occasion of another story ‘finished.’ I know, because this is exactly where I am right now in my work.
Having completed my first draft and begun the editing process on my second manuscript, I find myself at Base Camp 1 on the high peak of Edit Mountain. Not to fear, though—I have a plan. As I trudge through grammatical crevasses and my crampons plunge into misplaced modifiers, I’ll be trying the following to help bring myself to the summit peering out from the misty distance: Final Draft.
1) My first goal in editing this manuscript is to go through and fix any spelling and grammatical errors. I set this as my first goal because it will inevitably reacquaint me with parts of the manuscript that I may have mislaid in my mind while also offering a very objective and finite task.
2) Next will be to go through the manuscript and use the commenting function of my word processor’s Review tab to denote any important plot points, foreshadowing, or character traits. Likewise, since this manuscript has quite a few locations and the last names of some of my characters evolved as I wrote further into the work, I’ll also be looking for and correcting inconsistencies in these basic facts of the novel.
3) Only then will I go through and examine the plot arc, foreshadowing elements, and character consistencies throughout the story. I feel this can be the most difficult part of editing, but having gone through the story with the previously outlined steps, any issues with these more fundamental aspects of the manuscript should be readily apparent and I should feel ready to address them.
4) Finally, if all goes as planned? Open the bubbly and send it off to my wonderful beta-readers for feedback.
And my ultimate hope? That compartmentalizing my editing process will make it manageable and, dare I say, even a little fun.
I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, though, #amediting.