Jan 20, 2010

Editing Lessons - it's starting to sink in

I'm a little disorganised this week, which is not much different from the weeks leading up to this one :-), so instead of hashing out a single topic on editing, I'm going to skim over what I'm learning so far.

  • Know your characters - It's easy to get lazy with some of your secondary characters, but if you don't know them as a whole person (or dog, in my case) then they will be flat in the scenes. Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies which can add flavour or humour to a scene. I just read Devil May Care - a 'James Bond' novel by Sebastian Faulks, in which James Bond was described as being a good judge of character, and in particular, knowing when he could trust someone. Really? Every film I see has James accepting a drink of some evil stranger and getting himself drugged, or hooking up with a sexy young woman who turns out to be working for the bad guys. The rest of the novel was an enjoyable escape, but that small part stuck in my mind and if you are not careful the same can happen with your characters. Your readers will know if something just doesn't sound consistent and your storytelling depends on them being able to imagine it happening.
  • In mysteries the pace should keep increasing to the climax. Try to organise your hurdles in order so they become more and more exciting, leaving your reader breathless. I'm going to rearrange some of my situations that Kitty gets involved in, so they escalate towards a grande finale.
  • The first step to editing your manuscript is to READ it right through. Seems obvious, but the temptation is to keep skimming through to the bits you want to fix. One read through, without making corrections, just get a feel for how the story flows. 
  • My new approach is going to be to schedule time towards editing my stories. I found this didn't work so well for me when I was writing because my ideas would rebel and come 3hrs later or in the middle of the night, so I just went with the flow. Editing is like mending is to dressmaking, less fun but essential if you want a great finished product. I need to be a little more regimented with myself and I think I'll allocate 10am-12pm for editing every day, if I get more in, that'll be a plus.
Well that's it from me this week. I've read a couple of great books and articles on editing while on holidays, so I will try to organise my notes on those for next week's post - which I'm aiming to get back to Monday posts (down here in Aussie calendar time).

Happy writing!


  1. Hi, Charmaine! I need to work on the "schedule time for editing" part. I seem to find a million other little (less important) things to twiddle away my time. Then I have guilt issues! :-)

  2. I'm working on getting into the rhythm of scheduled time for writing/editing fiction - 2 hours every day of the week, or a total of 14 hours for the week, however it shakes out.