The Editing Process

Day 5 – “E” Editing

I’m old school. When it comes to ripping apart my first drafts, I find it physically painful to do so in any method that does not include a hard copy of the document and a red pen. Whether this be editing an employee handbook at work, revising an essay or article, or dissecting a chapter of my novel, my go-to method is to print it out and go through everything word by word, line by line. I’ve always edited this way and I highly doubt that I will ever resort to an exclusively electronic process.

As a tree-loving Oregonian, I cringe at this. In my defense, I try to give the document a good run through for initial edits prior to printing. But, I always find things I didn’t catch the first time around when I have a red pen in hand, prepared to attack the page. After inputting my first round of edits, I will typically print everything again, and again… and again, until I am finally satisfied with the final draft.

With my novel, I haven’t quite gotten to this stage. I’ve printed out and edited single chapters or stories, I’ve edited excerpts as I go along, and most definitely go back through and rewrite bits as needed as my characters and their journeys take unexpected turns. This ongoing process is a part of the editing process that I find incredibly beneficial. Part of editing is rearranging and restructuring your story to ensure that it flows and transitions perfectly, to ensure that characters are fully developed, and their stories are believable.

So I suppose that with my longer pieces, there are two parts to the process for me. Rearranging and rewriting prior to printing, then attacking my piece with a red pen in hand, editing for grammar, punctuation, and syntax, while fully prepared to dismember and re-piece together if necessary (which is nearly always).

With my blog posts (whether they be random articles, poetry, prose, a recipe, etc.) I have two tabs open when editing: the page in which I’m writing/editing the post, and the “preview” page. I go back and forth an average of 3-5 times, reading and rereading the preview version until I am (hopefully) 100% certain that there are no mistakes, freaking out and instantly editing if I happen to find an error post-publish.

What are your editing methods? Do you edit strictly on a computer or do you print out the document and edit by hand? Is there a process you adhere to or do you implement different techniques depending on the piece?


22 thoughts on “The Editing Process

  1. I’m a two tab post writer – one on edit, the other on preview.
    With editing (which I’m no fan of), I print off and scribble, and I also convert my manuscript into Kobo format, read it through and make annotations using the device. For some reason, I can spot different errors in ebook format to print. Ultimately, my problem is when to stop editing. I’m a tinker.

    1. Yay! I’m so glad I’m not the only “two tab” writer! 😉

      I didn’t see on your blog that you have been nominated for the Liebster Award, so I’m nominating you! 🙂

      I’m working on my post now (I was nominated by a fellow blogger over the weekend). Stay tuned for the instructions if you chose to participate! 🙂

  2. I’m the same way. I do as much on the computer as I can, but I also hate printing out that last version but need it on paper so the red pen can go to work. I print it two pages to a side, then double-sided making sure it prints the page number. I highlight overused words and have a method for rewriting sentences that has worked so far. Actually, the highlighters usually get a workout too during this phase. I use that print out to it’s full advantage.

    I do the same with blog posts. I’ll write the whole thing, then click preview and read it. I don’t always catch the mistakes, but doing it that way seems to help.

  3. I find the most helpful thing for me is letting things sit for a while. So if I write a blog post, I let it sit as long as I can and then read through it again. I mostly edit via computer for efficiency reasons, but sometimes there is no substitute for looking at hard copy, I try to save that for later, though, when there is less to mark up.

    1. I’m right there with you. Regardless what the piece is (fiction, poetry, technical or business writing for work, etc.) I find it soooo beneficial to let the work sit, and come back to it later with a fresh set of eyes.

  4. Loved this post. I am all about editing as well. I’m always using the preview tab when I’m writing my blog posts just to make sure they look as they should. While writing my novel, I tried to go green and do my editing online, but after the 2nd time around, I caved and printed out my chapters. Red pen is my best friend!

  5. Most of the larger document editing I have done has been on paper, but the longer I blog, the more comfortable I get with editing onscreen. When I do write a book, I think I will do many rounds of electronic editing and one final hard copy edit. I bet onscreen editing would be even more comfortable for me if I found an app or program where I could do all the things I do with a pen, especially write notes to myself (or the author). Just seems like there is nothing as great as paper. My contribution to the environment in this area is I try to print everything I possibly can two-sided.

    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge. Hope you are enjoying it!

    1. That is a very good point. I agree with you in that blogging has definitely helped me become more (begrudgingly so) comfortable with editing on a computer vs printing out the document and editing by hand. At work, I’m constantly making “notes” to myself using the “comments” option in Word. I should start doing this with my novel. Hmm.. It’s fascinating to me how one method works in my professional life, and another works for my personal writing, and I find it difficult to intertwine the techniques!

  6. I find my edits (on my novel) easier to read on paper, but considering it’s sitting at about 750 pages at the moment, it’s a lot of paper. (I use scrap paper only but the price of ink is out of this world!!) I’m working on my 6th edit at the moment – have printed it out twice. So yeah, mostly on the computer.
    As for blog posts, I do the same thing as you. I can get a much better feel for my grammar when I’m looking at it as it will read on my blog.
    Great post, Christina! 🙂

  7. Hi, Christina. Great posts on editing. I only edit for blog posts online, but when writing professionally, I printed out and used a red pen. Then my editor at this one newspaper also used a red pen and I’d have to start all over. Hate those red pens… 😀

  8. I’ve never yet finished ANYTHING that needs to be edited. I’ve four books in progress on my other computer, sometimes I get bursts of enthusiasm and write for weeks at a time, but other times (as now) the other computer stays closed and I write nothing. When I FINALLY get to finish them, I’m fairly sure I’ll print it off and butcher the pages, physically cutting and annotating, rather than doing it on a computer. Its much more ..hmm.. authorish I think.

  9. I keep it to the computer for the most part because printer ink is so expensive (and it takes at least a full cartridge to print one of my books). I might print out chapters that need major work before then so I can highlight what I want to keep and make notes in the margins, but tiny changes still take place on-screen because I print in small font to save paper. My only full, 1.5-spaced print-out comes when I do the final clean-up before it goes for outside editing, because pen and paper is still the best way for me to catch little errors that my eyes gloss over on the computer.

    ^This is my system now… my first book got printed several times.

    And then I still catch more in the paperback proof. Apparently this is quite common.

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