Editing Tips from Patsy Collins


Hi, Maria, thanks for inviting me over.

I have a confession to make - I quite like editing. Not the fiddly stuff at the end so much and definitely not when an editor has asked for changes after I thought I was finished, but I enjoy the first stages of editing. I think that's when the writing really starts. My first drafts are always a mess, but once I have one I have something to work on and almost anything I do will improve it.

Editing is our chance to fix mistakes but it's much more than that. We can add stuff too.

For example during the first draft of my novel, A Year and a Day, none of my characters had a birthday. The story covers a whole year (and a day  - but you guessed that) so that was a mistake to fix. Because I knew the characters very well by that stage I knew what sort of birthday they'd like and whether the people close to them would make that happen.

I didn't just write in a couple of birthday party scenes though. I used them to show more about the character's relationships and to advance the story. That meant deleting some earlier scenes and incorporating others into the new setting. Just tidying up the first draft and adding in the missed birthdays would have been far quicker and easier, but writing is about more than getting to the end as quickly and easily as possible.

My editing tips for short stories and novels -

Try not to edit as you go. It's OK to experiment and make mistakes in the first draft.

Keep a copy of the draft, especially if you intend big revisions. It's easier to be brave if you can change your mind later.

The delete key is your friend.

Take a break between each stage and work on something else for a while.


British author Patsy Colllins is the author of  many published short tories and three published novels. She lives in England with her husband.  Her latest novel is A YEAR AND A DAY.

A YEAR AND A DAY


Despite Stella's misgivings her best friend Daphne persuades her to visit a fortune teller. Rosie-Lee promises both girls will live long and happy lives. For orphaned Stella, the fortune teller's claims include a tall, dark handsome man and the family she longs for. Stella doesn't believe a word, so Rosie-Lee produces a letter, to be read in a year's time, which will prove her predictions are true.

Stella remains sceptical but Daphne is totally convinced. She attempts to manipulate Stella's life, starting by introducing Stella to her new boss Luigi, who fits the romantic hero image perfectly. In complete contrast is Daphne's infuriating policeman brother John. Despite his childhood romance with Stella ending badly he still acts as though he has a right to be involved in her life.

Soon John is the least of her worries. Daphne's keeping a secret, Luigi can't be trusted, romantically or professionally and both girls' jobs are at risk. Worse still, John's concerns for their safety are proved to be justified.

John, and Rosie-Lee's letter, are all Stella has to help put things right.


Get this at Amazon  and Amazon UK

33 comments:

  1. I find that because of spellcheck, the usual suspects are eliminated before we start, but the cursory search button "FIND" becomes the greatest editing tool. Because of our nature of writing what is in our head, we often are verbose with words like THAT, or LY adverbs. I wind up spending editing sessions specifically looking for those words and destroying them, and it is during those times I expand the story upon rereading the material.

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    1. I didn't mean to come across as Anonymous

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    2. It is a good idea to do a search for any words we think we may have overused.

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    3. Repetition is a frequent problem with me. I like your advice.

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  2. LifeAsYouLiveIt25 April 2013 at 03:11

    Your book looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. I find editing a little scary still. I love the slash & burn stage, but rearranging and fleshing out are areas I still need to work at! The book sounds great too - lots of fun!

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    1. Patsy must be the first author I've come across who likes editing. Thanks for coming over, Jemi.

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    2. I find it helps to work in stages, Jemi. Fixing a whole book is daunting, but adding a little more detail to one scene isn't so bad.

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  4. I've done the "oops, my characters didn't have birthdays and they skipped Christmas completely" issue, too. Fortunately I realized that and, like you did, I was able to deepen the story and symbolism by including these important events.

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    1. It's all part of the learning process, Stina, isn't it? Thanks for coming over.

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    2. It's reassuring to know it's not just me, Stina.

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  5. Good post, Patsy - and a good tip to finish the frist draft before much editing.

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    1. Hi Rosemary. Thanks for coming over.

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    2. If I didn't I'd probably never reach the end, Rosemary.

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  6. HI, Patsy! I have a hard time not editing as I go. It's something I need to work on more because it really slows me down.

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    1. It's a continuous learning process, isn't it, Jennifer?

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    2. Perhaps you can try restricting yourself, Jennifer. Allow ten minutes editing per hour first drafting say, so you fix things that really bug you without getting too bogged down in the details.

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  7. Hi Patsy and Maria .. I came by earlier, but got bombed out. I like the idea of being able to fix things up .. and a year without an anniversary .. is a little strange - glad that got fixed.

    You're always so thorough .. and I'm looking forward to reading your books .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary. I try to be thorough, but I have to do several drafts in order to remember everything I need to cover - then a few to remove stuff I don't need!

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  8. I love editing too. It's when the real work comes in, not that drafting isn't work, but it's more creative than craft. Editing can have me spend an hour on one single page!

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    1. You clearly see it the same way as I do, Pk. I'm not saying I always get everything perfect, but if I know it's wrong I have to fix it however long it takes.

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  9. Good tips from Patsy. I don't enjoy editing until I'm deep in it. Getting started is the hardest part, but the discoveries I make is like going a new and different journey with the same book.

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    1. I agree that getting started is the hardest bit, JL. Once I get going and see things are improving it's easier.

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  10. I enjoy the editing phase more than the first draft. Once it's on paper, I can do something with it.

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  11. I don't think I'd thought of characters having a birthday either Patsy. Good editing tips thanks.

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    1. Birthdays won't always be needed, but if the story covers a long time period without any characters getting older it might seem odd.

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  12. Totally love Patsy!!!! She's so prolific and super talented and she's a finalist for this super duper comp and I know she'll win that too cos she's just amazing, amazing, amazing!!!

    Oh I fail big time with the editing - I tend to edit as I go along and that's BAD cos I never progress to paragraph two! LOL!!! Take care
    x

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  13. Thank for the fantastic tips, not that Im an author but i'd like to apply them when I try and write a review :D Thank you Maria and Patsy.

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