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Dreaded Edits by Carla Caruso


Wouldn’t it be nice if you could whip up a manuscript in one go and never have to revisit it to tweak it?

Unfortunately – writing geniuses aside – manuscripts usually require three edits. Sorry.

The first draft I find the most fun – and the most creative. You’re getting down your thoughts, the characters are sparring beautifully, and in your mind the story is a masterpiece.

I usually write out each scene, then do a read-through and tweak before starting on the next one. I also carry around a mini notepad which I put changes and extra lines dreamt up in whenever they come to me (usually when I’m doing something scintillating like the vacuuming). And the next time I park my derriere at the computer, I make those changes, so it’s a continual refining process.

Now comes the painful second edit. This (for me) is a lot less fun. There will be scenes that don’t work, plot threads that have been dropped, clunky dialogue, and incidents that just don’t gel with your characters. Maybe you also have to add or chop words to make a certain word count. Unfortunately, the story probably doesn’t (yet) read like a masterpiece either. But by the time, you’ve got to the end of this edit, you’ll be inching a lot closer.

By the third edit, I’m usually flying, though I may be a little sick of my story at this point – some scenes will still take me by surprise, though. “Oh, I forgot that happened – how nifty!” are words that will chime in the back of my head.

Then… ahhh… there’s nothing sweeter than getting to “the end” of that speedy third edit, when you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done and send your “baby” out into the world – be that an agent or publisher. (Maybe you’ve used a critique partner throughout too.)

I think, personally, doing any edits beyond this is overkill, because no agent or publisher expects a manuscript to be 100 per cent perfect. It’s usually just time-wasting – nit-picking, procrastinating, whatever you want to call it! – when you could be working on your next piece. After all, you know what they’ll usually require when they give your manuscript the big tick of approval? More edits! They’ll pick up the niggly bits you totally overlooked.

So then you’ll have a FOURTH chance to go through your manuscript and refine it some more, winding up with a story that’s a breeze to read. Of course, no one has to know just how many painstaking hours of work it took to craft!

Carla Caruso is the author of Second Chance and Cityglitter, available through www.destinyromance.com. Visit her at www.carlacaruso.com.au

53 comments:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It's my pleasure to return the favor.

    I wish someone had told me this stuff about only editing three times a long time ago. I've edited and rewritten my manuscript so many times, I've lost count. Always seeking perfection, I suppose, and nitpicking at every little part of it. Next novel... three times only! You got it!

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  2. I completely hear you on the second round being a lot less fun! I sometimes wish I had a writing partner who loved revisions so I could just have fun with the first draft :)

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    1. Oh, that would be a dream, Meradeth!

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    2. Thanks for coming by to read Meradeth!

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  3. I've been learning this whole process for the last few years & I wish I'd learned more about editing early on. Love your system :)

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    1. Hi Jemi, Yes, everyone has their own way of tackling manuscripts - best to do what works for you!

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    2. Hi Jemi!

      Thanks for sharing!

      Nas

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  4. It is so hard to let go and send that ms out--over editing is very common, but under editing is worse. Great post. Just where I'm at. Thank you.

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  5. I think it takes a lot of skill and effort to make the finished book read as though it were easy to write.

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  6. Great post. I'm in that first stage right now with WIP #3. And I'll definitely let the beta readers and the critter have a go at it before making my final pass. They catch so much. They're painful but invaluable.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Thanks for sharing about your work and experience, Melissa.

      Nas

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    2. I agree, Melissa - good to have a second eye go over it (or multiple!)

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  7. I'm doing this as well. Second, (or is it third) time through.
    I do have a critique partner and after doing six chapters, she sent it back to me - saying more of this, more of that.
    So a total rewrite/edit is in progress.
    Another way of doing editing I have heard of recently, is Text to talk.
    If you can set up Word to do this, it becomes easier to pick up those mistakes, plus it sounds like an Audio tape story.
    Even though we hate doing edits, we'll always love the end product.

    Great post.

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    1. Great advice re text to talk. Thanks for sharing Jenny!

      Nas

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    2. I agree, Jenny - you forget about all the pain when you have the final finished product!

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  8. Thanks for commenting on my blog today.

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  9. Editing is a major part of any manuscript! The first draft is often the most fun, but sometimes editing can feel really gratifying. I usually feel like I'm making a lot of progress!

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    1. Yes, Beth, I agree - it can be nice to know the draft is done and now the diamond in the rough just needs some spit and polish!

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    2. I like your attitude to editing Beth!

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  10. Great post Carla. I agree with you - at one point you have to say 'enough' and stop the editing. I think I'm with you... three is enough!

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    1. Whatever works for you, of course, Victoria, but you don't want it to become a decade's long work and then scrap it! Then again, that decade's long work could turn out to be a bestseller...

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    2. Hi Victoria!

      Thanks for coming by!

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  11. Working on my first novel, and can so identify with the 'sick of it' reference.

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    1. Glad to hear it, Jacqueline - I thought that was just me!

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    2. Hi Jacqueline!

      Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I do so agree with you Carla - writing the first part is the most enjoyable and creative. The editing is nothing but pure hard work.

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    1. Yes, Maria, it can be hard to associate something you love - writing - with something that can feel like hard work at times, but I'm learning to accept it!

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  13. One of my favorite parts of writing is editing. That's when everything comes together.

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    1. Hi Stina, Yes, some writers I know prefer getting the dirty draft down and getting on with the editing - everyone seems to be different!

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    2. Hi Stina!

      Thanks for dropping in and sharing about your own process!

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  14. Question: How do I follow your blog?

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    1. The Follow has been added now, thanks for asking Stina!

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  15. I think it's different for everyone. I need way more edits than just three, but that's me. I stop editing when it's only minor tweaks left. That means I'm happy with the rest.

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    1. And I think that's key, Lynda: do what works for you and forget the rules! You're right on the money there

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    2. Thanks for sharing Lynda, I love reading everyone's processes!

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  16. I love the second draft most, because my story is usually a little bleh in the first draft and often doesn't even make cohesive sense. Like Lynda, I take more than three edits too.

    (and as Stina said, would love to follow the blog, but there's no follow buttons).

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    1. Thanks for sharing your process Charmaine!

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  17. Hi Charmaine, Yes, some seem to prefer a real mucky first draft and then a real refining in the 2nd. Whatever gets the creative juices flowing for you works, I reckon!

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  18. Hi Carla, love the post. I appreciate all the hard work everyone puts into each and every book that is published. One of the bonuses of reading blogs over the years is that I have gained an appreciation for all the hard work that goes into producing something that I as a reader may take hours to read (if i'm lucky enough not to be interrupted) but takes you months and months to produce. Anyone who writes off romance books as easy to write is completely wrong!

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    1. Thanks Tash! Yes, I completely agree with you. Writing romance takes time and hard work.

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  19. Hi Carla - great post. I'm deep in edits at the moment - the non-fun ones!!!

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    1. Hi Jennifer!

      Thanks for coming by! I saw your tweet too about deep in edits!

      All the best with your edits!

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  20. Great post. It certainly is easy to fall into the trap of nitpicking and not moving on to the next step.

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    1. Thanks for your input, Rachel! So true!

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