What about editting?

Edtting can be the writers bane or best friend depending on how you look at it. For me, many times it is both. In the Writing Challenge, Jeff Goins offers these simple steps to follow in editing a larger work:

“Here’s the long and short of it:

1. Write your first draft just to get words on paper. Turn off the internal editor.
2. Write your second draft to get the substance of the work. Go back and review major content structure (like how the chapters are arranged or how the ideas/scenes build on each other).
3. Write your third draft to start making it look pretty. Focus on sentence structure and how much sense you’re actually making. Pay attention to transitions, but don’t get too far into the nitty gritty. It’s at this point that you have a real manuscript.
4. Get someone to review your work and give you good, honest feedback. Be ready to hear some hard things. Then go apply what they say. Try limiting who you share the work with to only a handful of people, or just one really good editor.
5. Proofread and ship (at this point, you’re not completely done necessarily but it’s time to send it to the publisher or get a bunch of friends to review the final draft so that they can help you catch things you missed).

That’s the process I follow for writing longer works (not blog posts). For my blog, I usually just do the first three, though sometimes will share with close friends if it’s an idea I’m nervous to share.”

What other editing tips have you found helpful? What are some of the things that can help us improve our pieces whether for market or simply to know we have created the best piece we can write?


Day 1: Share our work

Today let’s share our work. What’s one piece you’re working on that you could use feedback on? Here’s how it will work:

1. Post your imperfect work here in this group so that we can all help each other improve. Ask for specific feedback; try not to leave it open ended.

2. Comment on at least one other person’s work, but only on what they asked about. In other words, if they didn’t ask for help with grammar, don’t correct their typos. And as always, keep it positive.



Day 2: Find The Substance

If you’re joining the 5-stage editing challenge, today review your piece and look for the real substance. A short piece can only support one core theme. So go through your piece, figure out what’s it’s about at its core, and describe it in one or two words.

Faith, redemption, hope, betrayal. Find your universal theme. Then go through your vomit draft, move things around to build up to that one big theme in Draft 2, and tuck the rest away to use in a different piece.



Day 3: Get Pretty

If you’re joining the 5-stage editing challenge, today take the restructured draft you did yesterday and look at it sentence by sentence. See if your sentences really say what you want them to say, the best way you can possibly say them.

Look for places where you use more words than you need or where you repeat yourself. Look for spots where you can expand a concept to be more clear.

Mix up your sentence structure and read your work out loud to improve the flow and rhythm of your work. Tweak and adjust to make your piece stronger.



Day 4: Feedback Day, Part 1

If you’re joining the 5-stage editing challenge, today is Step 4, the day of hard truths.

Today, pick/ask for one or two people to give you honest feedback (trust me, more will get overwhelming).

Ask what the reader thinks the piece is about, and see if it matches what you intended. Find out what connects and what doesn’t? Where does it ramble? Where does it need more?

And on the other side, when you are asked to give feedback, be sure to find both encouraging things and ways to improve the work. Be constructive. And keep in mind this step is NOT about proofreading spelling and grammar — it’s about making the content better.



Day 5: Take What You Like, Leave The Rest

If you’re joining the 5-stage editing challenge, today is the second half of Feedback Day.

Take the feedback you received yesterday and incorporate it. Consider objectively the suggestions your reviewers shared with you. If there was a difference surrounding what the piece was about, consider their perception.

Look at the things they said worked and see if there are any ways you can highlight those.

Look at what they said didn’t work, and consider fixing it.

Also, know that just because a reviewer makes a suggestion, you’re not required to make a change. Just be really sure you know why you are choosing to change or not change. Be intentional with Draft 4.

And…you are ALMOST DONE!



Day 6: Proof and Publish

If you’re joining the 5-stage editing challenge, today is the last step: “Draft” 5, or…THE FINISHED PIECE.

Proofread your piece carefully. Check spelling and grammar. Look rules up if you don’t know them (Google is your friend).

Then publish it.

Post it on your blog, or on the Wordgang blog. Or submit it to a magazine or another blog or website as a guest post.  Just put it *somewhere* that is not your hard drive.

And WOOHOO! You did it!

By the way, you won’t always go through each of these steps as intentionally for a short piece like a blog post. And for a book, each of these steps could take weeks. But now you know the process. Have fun with it,


2 responses to “What about editting?

  1. Put Goin’s list on this page in Wordgang with space for responses listing editing ideas. I think it is a big issue, not only when it comes to how often to edit but what to edit for. For example, one writer I know found the idea of getting rid of the first paragraph and trying to consolidate opening comments to one sentence was something that helped him begin to hone his ideas. This page will be a place for sharing ideas that help you hone your thoughts.

  2. Thanks for reposting it here.

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