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  • Michael James

The Editing Process aka fixing your first draft

Howdy, everyone. I hope you're all keeping well and safe in these troubling times. Also, we need a better term than "troubling times" because I am getting tired of that expression.

Challenging times?

Fraught times?

The times, they are a' troublin'?


I don't have any better ideas. What am I, a writer? Regardless, I hope everyone's doing well.


Today I've got editing on my mind because that's where I am with Hotel book 2. I'm in the trenches, re-reading everything I spat out and wondering how I can improve it, so by the time gets into your hands, it's the best it can be.


I like the editing process and I thought it would be fun to take you through the different types and show you some examples of what it looks like.


Wait. Are you still doing that thing where you insert questions into your articles to break up the flow?


Yup.


Okay, continue. Tell us about editing.


Right. Editing. There are three types:


Dev or developmental editing: This is editing at the story structure level. Are your beats hitting? Is your pace working? Are your character arcs landing? This is often the most challenging type of editing because problems uncovered in Dev usually require wholesale re-writes


Line editing: This is editing your sentences for flow and clarity. Rewriting them to keep their meaning, but improve the way they're written. This is my favorite type of editing. It's like solving a puzzle.


Copy editing: This is spelling, grammar, punctuation. I'm terrible at this. There are many reasons I hired an editor, but this is certainly up there.


Great. Are you going to give us a line edit example now?


I sure am.


When I was going through my last round of edits, I stopped to write down what I was thinking as I edited a sentence. This single sentence took me about seven minutes. Line editing is not for the faint of heart.


For context, Flute is the name of a character, and "The Jane" refers to a group of individuals known as "The Janes".


Original sentence: Flute’s breath caught in her throat and she took a step back into the Jane


Editing-Mike Thought (EMT): But where else can breath catch? In her feet? Her hands? It's a bit redundant to say it caught in her throat.


Take 2: Flute’s breath caught, and she took a step back into the Jane.


EMT: Can I do better than "caught"? It's a weak word.


Take 3: Flute’s breath seized, and she took a step back into the Jane


EMT: Do you really need to "take" steps though? Because you're using "take" to modify the word "step" (a noun) into a verb. Can't you just use the verb?


Take 4: Flute’s breath seized, and she stepped back into the Jane


EMT: Okay, now come up with a better word than stepped because that word barely means anything.


Final Version: Flute’s breath seized, and she toppled backward into the Jane.



You are insane. You do this for every sentence?


Not all of them, but a lot of them. I love line editing. Look how much better that new line is. It uses fewer words, it's more evocative, it's not so bad!


So that's where I am with the Hotel sequel right now. Editing my first draft so it's ready for professional editing by my professional editor.



Hope you found some of this interesting, gang. I have tons more planned for Hotel and am still quite optimistic I can have the sequel out by August of this year.


And for those interested, I've put the first one on sale for 99 cents. Check it out if you haven't already.


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