Wednesday, February 29, 2012

So You Thought It Was Over?

Hahaha! Think again. What am I talking about? Edits, edits, edits. We wrote the rough draft of our stories. Perhaps we made an outline to guide us along the way. Or else we let the story grow according to the characters’ wants and goals. Then we typed those two beautiful words: THE END. Unless we’re able to get it just right the first time (how awesome that would be) we know, of course, that it’s far from over.

Next comes the second draft and we go through the manuscript again: Edits number one. Each author does this differently, but our goals are the same. We may discover that we have to cut scenes because although we love a particular scene it doesn’t add anything to the story. Many times we use too many words of narration or dialogue when fewer are the best. Sometimes a character isn’t necessary and we need to cut him/her out, even though we really like the character. Save him for another story. We might need to move scenes around so they fit in better. If we cut a scene completely, save it because it might be exactly right for another work.

We look for places where we’ve repeated ourselves. I’m terrible about this, and they have to be deleted as well, unless the words are absolutely necessary. Or we might need to fill in missing background when our scene talks about a subject that we haven’t mentioned before and the characters are supposed to already know it. A critique group is great at catching details like this. I read my manuscripts so many times usually that I know I’ve said something, but was it in another draft or in the one I’m working on?

If we find that we need additional research to check our facts about the depth of water around the lighthouse (in my forthcoming paranormal tween story) or the information found on an adoption certificate (like I needed to know for my young adult novel out in March) this is the time to get those facts straight. Readers are smart. They’ll catch mistakes, not only in historical novels but in contemporary, fantasy, and all other types of books as well.

In the second draft, we’ve straightened out the characters and the plot (hopefully, though not always) and we’re on to the polishing phase. Yes, these are the things our English teachers taught us. There’s so much still to look at in this draft. I won’t list them all here because you as writers already know them. Sherry Garland’s book Writing for Young Adults has some great advice about revisions. You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracy Dills is another good one.

After draft number two we go back for the third, fourth, or even more revisions. Finally, we’re finished. YAY! We send the manuscript off. Lovely agent or publisher buys it. All we have to do now is sit back and wait for the book to come out. Right? Well, not exactly.

More edits await us. The editor goes over our manuscript. Every little period, comma, word, character, and scene has to be just right. And no matter how many times we’ve read and made changes in the manuscript, something has escaped us, at least it does me. Thank heavens for editors and their patience.

Do not despair, however, we listen to the editor, we make the changes if we agree with him/her and we look to the future when our book will be out and all those pesky mistakes are history. The weeks, months, years of slaving over the story have a happy ending when we can hold our book in our sticky little hands, or when I can download the eBook copy to read on my eReader. At last, it's over.

YA Contemporary

Available in Mid-March

Now available for pre-order at the publisher, 4 RV Publishing

No, we're not talking about the promotion today. :)

Happy writing and editing.


  1. Happy editing - the part of the process that goes on forever!
    And congratulation on your newest book!

  2. You are telling me. I'm now on the 5th round of edits on my coming release and have at least 2 more with the proof reader after the book is formated - ugh. It totals 5 formal edits not to mention the 10 I did before submitting to the editor. That's why I need to figure out how to write faster since I have to take at least 3 months to edit.

  3. Sounds familiar, LM. I lost count on my last one. Or else I blocked it out of my mind. That's the reason I'm so slow.

  4. Great news about your new book! Aaarrggh, edits, one of the many banes to our existence. On the other hand, going through a published manuscript and not finding a single typo is a joy I have yet to experience! May you consistently have that joy!

  5. Thanks, Ophelia. Yes, somehow a sneaky little comma or misspelled word will find its way into the story, no matter how many times it's read. At least in mine it does.