How Do You Edit?

How Do You Edit?
March 13, 2017 No Comments » For Authors, Writing Advice Nancy E Miller


Each writer has his/her own process of creation. That includes, and I cringe at the word, editing. Nope, there is no way around it.  It is one of the necessary evils (like marketing) that we writers must endure.

I’m probably speaking just for myself. Some writers absolutely love editing. (No, really, stop laughing.)

How many times do you edit your book/story before submitting to an editor? Yes, before. And before publishing? 

I’ve met writers who believe editors are for fixing whatever they are handed.  They expect the editor to take a run-down shack and turn it into a mansion.  Have more respect for your story than to hand over shoddy work. 

I find I have to go through my own work 5-6 times minimum before I feel ready to show it to anyone.

1.       First draft is complete. I print it out and read through making notations about plot holes, character quirks, details, foreshadowing.  First drafts are always horrible. The universe has declared it so.  This is where you determine if the story works at all or what it needs to fix it. Then I start making changes. But I take heart in the fact I have a working three act structure.

2.       Second draft. I read through it again and determine if the changes make sense.  Find more things to be fixed. First round of punctuation and grammar. Input this series of changes.

3.       I like to create the final outline and synopsis then go over it in detail. Sometimes things pop out when you look at the bones. An outline strips away the flesh to display the skeleton, the structure and framework of your work.

4.       I go back and make sure the sensory information is included.  Touch, smell, hearing, taste.  Emotions and feelings are part of the whole picture. Visual imagery or environmental detail gets filled in. Don’t underestimate visual imagery but also realize we don’t always need to know the color of the drapes.

5.       Here is where I put the piece through Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or one of the other services for writers to check for their opinion on what needs to be fixed.

None of the above are hard and fast rules nor do they always take place in the order listed. But they do take place.

I feel it is my place as an author to present my best work to my editor.  I don’t care for others messing with my basic story. (That sounds pretentious but it isn’t up to my editor to tell my story.)  I like to keep the editor’s job to catching what I missed, asking questions to clarify, and that darned grammar and punctuation.  If I have done my job well, it should be an easy edit for them.

[bctt tweet=”If you’ve done well, your #editor should have an easy job. @NEMiller_Author #amediting #MondayBlogs #ourwriteside” username=”OurWriteSide”]

I have to add on one more read-thru after considering the edits. At least one. Let me be frank. By the time I get through reading and rereading, I know I am done when I feel the need to throw my laptop across the room.

Yes, it is true.  It never ends.  When the publisher gets the book there is another edit, another read, then the proofs, another read.  By the time the darn thing is in print, you have it memorized.

How do you edit? Feel free to share your process.  Leave it in the comments. I would love to hear from you.


Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.

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