How much editing is too much? Too little? How does one edit one’s own work? For me, reading through a work several times is necessary. I typically follow one of two paths in editing:
Share the Wealth
1. I give my piece to others to read and critique. Being a part of a critique group helps a lot with this, as every few weeks I’m up to submit 4,000 words or so. I’ve let my fellow group members know that I expect them to really dig in and criticize. This really cuts down on a lot of steps as I get feedback from multiple folks.
2. I put into effect the critique with which I agree (and some I may not initially agree with if it’s the same across the board) and either change what I have or completely rewrite it.
3. If I rewrite it, I take it through the process below.
1. First read through: I like to get the heavy lifting done first, so I read for content. Pacing, plot and character development, setting…I try to attack all of this in the beginning stage because doing so prevents repetition of efforts.
2. Second read through: I edit for style. Word choice, sentence structure, showing vs. telling, and accuracy if research is involved.
3. Third read through: I check last for grammar and spelling. By proofreading last, I ensure I don’t have to do it again. I don’t really like proofreading…it’s not that it’s difficult, but it requires very little creativity.
Editing is a multi-step process. However, getting stuck in a rut of endless editing doesn’t get a story out into the world. Sometimes I find it helpful to post raw writing too, even full of mistakes and areas of improvement. That way, when the finished product is ready, the process is visible…to all of us. There’s no secret to writing and editing. It’s all about finding balance–moderation. Moderation is key.