Thursday Theory- The Effective Editing Method

Yesterday in our writing tip of the day we went over how to have a positive, productive editing mindset. Today, we will learn how to get our work done effectively.

Successful, mostly unstressful editing is best accomplished in two stages.

Stage 1:

  • Approach your work like a reader. Expect a good read. Then just read it as if you never had before.
  • Note and mark things that were unclear, pointless, or just straight up stupid.
  • Flag plot-holes, bad grammar, things that were alluded to, but never explained.

Sometimes when we work on something for extended periods of time, we forget exactly what we meant or were hinting out. Your writerly instincts should be able to tell it apart from foreshadowing  and such.

  • Keep track of your book’s…beat, if you will. Is there a section that’s too slow, too fast, or needs a little something extra? Highlight the scene, and make a note.

IMPORTANT: Do not actually CHANGE anything in this stage!!! Stage 1 is purely to prime you for editing. Rewriting and reading with an editorial eye at the same time is a bad tactic. You’ll be overly critical and overwhelmed. Just read it and make notations.

NOTE: The notations should be obvious. Color-code, highlight, switch fonts, do whatever, just make the to-be-edited areas easy to spot. Also make it clear (to yourself) what kind of editing the piece requires.

Stage 2:

  • A couple of days after completing Stage 1, reopen the file and get to work.
  • Start with one are of editing, say for example, things that were unclear and fix them. GO THROUGH THE WHOLE BOOK.
  • A day or so after, begin again with a different area. GO THROUGH THE WHOLE BOOK.
  • Continue this process until you’ve completed all necessary editing.
  • If you have beta-readers send them the edited version. Do not change anything else until you’ve received feedback from your beta readers.
  • After you receive the feedback, make any changes you deem necessary, then close the file.
  • After at least 48 hours, open the file and read your work. Fine-tune.
  • Take a deep breathe.
  • CELEBRATE!!! You’ve finished the editing process!

If you don’t understand or are tempted to ignore the suggested breaks, here’s why they’re there:

Editing is not quick. It is long process. If you don’t take any breaks, you will burn out, get tired, become discouraged. Take the breaks to relax, have fun, work on another project (perhaps the sequel, if you have one), binge watch on Netflix- JUST DON’T EDIT.

Remember- Editing isn’t evil. It is not the writing stage where we squish our work into a reader-friendly mold, it is the part were we take our rough jewel and turn it into a beautiful diamond.


Questions or comments? Suggestions for future Writing Theory pieces? Liked what you read…didn’t like what you read? Found it helpful? Write it below, or like, to let me know!



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