?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I am after advice about how to rewrite/edit a first draft into a second draft. Pretty fundamental advice, to be honest. I know there are probably many ways of doing this and I do know a little about copyediting and proofreading other people's writing but, how do people edit their own work? Do you rewrite it on the computer whilst reading it on a printout? Do you edit it on the screen within the copy that you are reading? I have no idea where to start, to be honest. I have never felt that I need to edit my writing because I have always written for myself and a few other people that seemed to like how I wrote in the first place. I have always edited a I wrote to an extent as well. Something I am still doing a little as I go along writing my IndyWriMo 2009 manuscript.

If you wouldn't mind, I would love to read about how you edit/rewrite. I have read (and am reading) a number of blogs and books on writing and the writing process but have yet to read anything about the editing process that is not more about the technical detail of copyediting notation. I cannot imagine writing it all again from scratch, to be honest, even when I am only up to just over 8k words so far.

Another thing: Software. I cannot keep the continuity details of my story in my head and am having to keep notes as I go along of character names and relationships, place names and other world-building details. They sit in a separate 'file' or 'card' within Scrivener from my draft and I can refer to them whenever I need to but, sadly in Scrivener, I cannot keep them on the display at the same time as my draft. I am not sure what to do about that. I am contemplating using the mac app Stickies or a paper notebook. The Stickies method may not be as portable, though. At least using Excel and Scrivener the files can live in my cloud-computing and therefore cross-platform and cross-machine Dropbox - I would have to investigate whether that would be possible using Stickies. I have a trial copy of Storyist as well as the licensed copy of Scrivener that I have been using. What do you use?

All this 'writing a longer piece' is a new experience for me and a learning curve. If all I do by taking part in IndyWriMo this year is learn more about how I write and how TO write/edit/research/etc. then it is well worth the experience.

I still edit as I go along, at least as far as editing typos and so on. I am 'lucky' in that I cannot touch-type because I rarely look at the screen and so do not do a lot of rereading as I go along but the red wavy line of the typo under words makes me look back every time I look up from the keyboard and I also tend to spot other errors in the surrounding words at that point as well. I tend to read at least that sentence or paragraph and fix any glaring errors.

Uh. Okay that has been a pretty waffly stream-of-consciousness post. This is how I write, at least in first-draft form.

To recap;
  1. How do you edit/revise/rewrite something you have written yourself?

  2. What software do you use and/or do you use paper and pencil? A combination of both?

  3. Any other hints and tips about the post-First-Draft processes?

  4. Any book recommendations that are not merely about writing, daily writing, creativity and how to have ideas - especially more about how to edit/revise/rewrite. Process and physically how to.

  5. Ditto website/blog recommendations regarding editing/revising/rewriting? I do most of my reading on the mac to be honest because I can read and knit at the same time.

  6. How important do people think a writing buddy or writers' group is? I am thinking about seeing what is available locally as well as the writing LJ groups and my writer LJFriends.

  7. Can anyone suggest any concrit (constructive criticism) LJ communities? I need to learn how to take concrit. This is going to be a HARD journey for me.

  8. Anything else? All advice will be gratefully received!



Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
euclase
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC)
I don't really write a rough draft because I work in pieces, but when I do edit, I usually put it away for a while and work on another project and then come back to it. And then I don't really edit it then. I just read it. Like I'll read it once, very quickly, and note the places where I stick. The BIG problems, I guess. And then I read it again, a little more carefully, and notice more places. And so on. But I'm always writing as I go, too. It's just like drawing, like building a skeleton and then slowly adding/refining muscles and stuff.

I don't know, that probably doesn't help you. I really like the whole process, though, so if you need encouragement, I'm good at that! Lol. <3
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I must admit that I have written short stuff for years - and poetry - but this is all new to me because I have always edited as I wrote in the past, if I edited at all.
stori_lundi
Nov. 9th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I don't write fiction - well, at least fiction for fun, but I do write a lot of lesson plans, scenarios, simulations, and other educational materials.

First off, if my material in on the computer, I print out a hard copy. Then I let it sit for at least half a day. Never edit your stuff right after you've written it or worked on it for a long time. You want to clear your brain and then look at it again.

After waiting, then I break out the pencil and start to edit my own stuff. If I have a bunch of additions or move stuff around, I'll either write it on a large sticky or copy the page and literally cut and paste. Or I'll go back to the electronic copy and edit it there.

If something is long, I'll make several passes at it. The first pass is just to make sure everything makes sense and flows. The second is to check all the little details and make sure they match up. The third is for grammar and punctuation. And then I'll do a forth to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

As for details and planning, I use sticky notes and a white board or large sheets of easel paper. That way I can write down ideas and organize them without having to rewrite things over and over. If I have a good idea but don't use it for that lesson or course, I'll move it to a "parking lot" on a separate sheet of paper. I'll also write up things and place them in the parking lot if I have an idea but no where to use it at the moment.

Everyone has their own little "system". You just have to figure out what works for you. I'm kinda like JK Rowling in that I don't like to be highly organized. Because I have to look through things over and over, I often find ideas or items that I had forgotten about and wouldn't otherwise find. This would drive some people nuts. As long as you have a system and it works for you, that's fine.

Hope this helps!!
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I have always edited as I wrote in the past, if I edited at all. Your reply has been really useful and I know we all work differently - I just have no idea how to do it! So asking people how they do it is a good start and I can try things and/or chose my methods to suit.
zeppo_marx
Nov. 9th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Writing anything longer than a speech or rant, frankly, is beyond my means. Even at that, I concur with others that oftentimes you need to put something down for a bit before editing. For me, it lets my subconscience go to town on it for a bit, and when I re-read it before editing I usually am far better to identify where things should be re-organized for better flow than if I tried right after I first wrote it. After that, I find that reading it aloud helps identify any areas where the sentance is less than clear in meaning.

Other than that, I have no ideas, save that the one or two times I've tried to write dialog I found that actually speaking the parts with another person made it really, really clear which portions came out as natural and which didn't.

Oh yeah, and I'm really big on sometimes getting frustrated, cursing, and chucking an entire document away and starting clean sheet.

I do that a lot!
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I have always edited as I wrote in the past, if I edited at all. Your reply has been really useful and I know we all work differently - I just have no idea how to do it! So asking people how they do it is a good start and I can try things and/or chose my methods to suit.
mongrelheart
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
Hi there! I agree with what stori_lundi said about letting a story sit before editing. And for me it would be much more than half a day. I'll take a break and chill out or work on something else for at least a few days or maybe even weeks.

When I'm ready to edit, I'll print out the story and read through it. If I find things that need fixing, I'll mark them as I go.

When I'm done reading through, I make an outline of the story, as it exists now. Then under each scene, I make note of the things I want to change/edit/delete/etc. When I'm done, I'll have a "map" of how I want the final product to be. I try to keep this outline very brief and bare bones. A page or two at the most.

The above refers to editing a first draft for plot, structure, character, and so forth. I try to deal with the big picture things first, then in the next round I'll concentrate more on the smaller details. Prose & style & tweaking of individual words and sentences comes last. I usually end up going through several passes of editing. I guess everybody has their own process but this is what I've found works well for me.

Here's a book on revision that I found useful:
http://www.amazon.com/Manuscript-Makeover-Revision-Techniques-Fiction/dp/B001RNI3GW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257803685&sr=8-1

Best of luck with your WIP!
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your help! The more ideas I have to try the more likely I am to find something that fits, I expect. ;-p
a_r_williams
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
A few ideas on editing:

1. Put the story/novel away for a cooling off period.

2. You might want to start working on something else during the cooling off period.

3. Let other people whom you trust read the story and give you feedback. There are writing groups and beta readers that you may be able to join and swap critiques in.

4. After the cooling off period, start with the large items first. There's no point in worrying about punctuation if your going to ditch the whole paragraph.

Check your characters: Are they believable, consistent, determined, likeable, etc.

Check you plot: Does the plot make sense, are there any holes in logic, parts that flag or are over the top

Check the setting: realistic, consistent, interesting

Check POV: is the POV consistent, does it fit the story, is the story shown from the correct character

Check Dialogue: is it realistic, fluid, fit the characters, convey information

Check Opening: does it introduce characters, pull the reader in, indicate the story problem

Check the Middle: does protagonist have obstacles they face and overcome, do those obstacles grow in number or difficulty, is there some success mixed in with a lot of failure

Check the Ending: Does it fit the story, answer the opening question

5. Once your satisfied with the large stuff, then you can start looking for grammar issues

BOOKS ON EDITING

The Complete Guide to Editing Your Fiction by Michael Siedman

The Writer's Digest Writing Clinic edited by Kelly Nickell

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King
natf
Nov. 9th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I have one thought, though. I am writing chunks of the story as they come to me for IndyWriMo and so these chunks are out of order - it is an epistolary-style novel. I know I will want to reorder them before I let anyone read it otherwise it is likely to not make much sense to them!
marypcb
Nov. 10th, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
I don't write fiction, so only some of this is relevant - maybe ;-)

when I first started writing, I planned religiously and even stuck to the plans sometimes. Now I kind of know how to do the plan as I go along - which can make me a little lazy or can mean I have to stop and rebalance things as I go along. blogging has also got me into bad habits of not being entirely sure where something is going to go before I start...

setting aside: the key thing. not only does it stop you being tempted to write more at the end instead of editing, it lets you get out of being inside the writing so you can read it. when you know what you meant, you won't see the word you missed out of the sentence. printing out is good for copy editing; it also gives you a distance that may be helpful but if you have the mental distance I don't think you *have* to print out. i don't bother any more.

try and shift your view to being a reader; pretend you don;t know what you know - does it still make sense? what assumptions are you making about what the reader knows.

how does it flow - sentence to sentence - paragraph to para - chapter to chapter. are you drawn along? are you skipping ahead? how does the pacing feel?

now look back - as a writer; did you say what you wanted to say, did the section get to where you want it to be, did you cover what you needed to have in there?

i used to plan, write, revise. now I plan, write and revise as I go along and most things go onto the page as a second draft ready for final tweaking - because there is no one right way to do this. but do plan to read and revise because if you have the writing right you'll enjoy it and if you have things to change you should see them.
natf
Nov. 10th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you Mary! I am forcing myself only to do the barest minimum of revision as I write, for now - so that I write! I agree that setting it aside will be the best plan - I just hope that I manage to. Then again, NaNoEdMo is not until March (IIRC) and I may continue on from the IndyWriMo 30k to the 50k needed for that over December/xmas. This story seems to keep wanting me to write more and, while I hope that will help me to reach 30k or even 50k, I will also need to decide when to stop!
razzberrimom
Nov. 10th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
I always edit myself, even when writing only for myself. I read and re-read, often to the point of obsession.

I find that it helps to go away and leave it alone for a while (overnight?) and then come back to it. My errors or better ideas are much more clear when I've stepped away for a while.

Finally, if it's something serious, I read it out loud. You'd be amazed how different something reads when your ears hear it rather than just that little voice in your head.
natf
Nov. 10th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
ysabetwordsmith
Nov. 13th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Thoughts
I am both an editor and a writer, so here are my thoughts.

>>Do you rewrite it on the computer whilst reading it on a printout? Do you edit it on the screen within the copy that you are reading? <<

First I write a rough draft, and I may make some changes as I am writing that. Then I put it away for a while. I reread it, spellcheck it, and make any changes that occur to me. Those are all done on computer screen. Next, I print it out and give it to my partner, who is one of my first-readers; he marks it up; we discuss changes; then I type in the changes. We repeat that cycle until we're both satisfied with it. Sometimes I email copies to other first-readers too.

>>What software do you use and/or do you use paper and pencil? A combination of both?<<

I use MS Word mainly. Sometimes I use paper for short snippets of fiction, notes, poetry, etc.

>>Any book recommendations that are not merely about writing, daily writing, creativity and how to have ideas - especially more about how to edit/revise/rewrite. Process and physically how to.<<

Well, I put a lot about revising and polishing your own work in my book _Composing Magic: How to Create Magical Spells, Rituals, Blessings, Chants, and Prayers_ which is obviously a very topical book but the basic processes generalize to any type of writing.

>>Ditto website/blog recommendations regarding editing/revising/rewriting? I do most of my reading on the mac to be honest because I can read and knit at the same time.<<

The best online site for writing and polishing your work is OWL:
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

>>How important do people think a writing buddy or writers' group is?<<

Depends on the person and the group. If people give you energy, and you are not too sensitive, a group will probably help. If people make you tired or upset easily, it's probably not for you. Also, a good group is a precious resource, while a bad one can wreck your confidence. So it's worth exploring, but pay attention and be cautious.

>>Anything else? All advice will be gratefully received!<<

For editing and polishing fiction, it helps to have a checklist. I actually made up a scoring sheet for the story board in Torn World, so people would have a guideline -- it has sections about plot, characterization, setting, etc. that help figure out which parts of a story are working and which aren't.

In fact, Torn World is a great opportunity for writers because everything goes past that story board for commentary.
http://www.tornworld.net/index.php

You might also want to check out the "editing" tag on my LJ:
http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/tag/editing

natf
Nov. 13th, 2009 10:58 am (UTC)
Re: Thoughts
Thank you so much for this!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

puffin
natf
Nat S Ford
If you enjoy this blog and want to help support it, please drop a small tip or donation into my PayPal tip jar.



While completely voluntary, all donations will help me buy yarn, eBooks, etc. and keep this blog (and me) going.

Thank you for reading!

≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈

≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈

≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈

≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈⠀⠀≈^..^≈

Latest Month

August 2019
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner