Time to Edit this Bitch

Sorry for the profanity (not really)


Editing is not my forte. Drafting is (mostly) fun, word-count goals are clean-cut to work towards, and editing just feels like a potentially never-ending hamster wheel of torture.

Okay its not quite that bad, to be honest its nice to work knowing you have a complete piece in the bank, even if it is terrible. I already know my WIP has a lot of work to be done, it’s probably not even truly ‘finished’ as its half the size it needs to be. (I know most people edit down, but I draft very light on description, character development and basically anything that worries me will become boring to a reader – thus I compost fairly frenetic first drafts)

I’m also aware that there are some very tropey things going on in the story. My main character seems to get imprisoned and captured a lot. I think this reflects that I want them to interact with their antagonists while preserving a sense of their conflict, but I doubt this will be very tolerable to most readers and I’ll have to brainstorm how to maybe make some of the initial interactions more subtly sinister than the MC being caged/handcuffed/magically warded.

Sexism may also be an issue for my story, not that my female characters are raging stereotypes or horribly objectified, they just kind of revolve around my MC, which makes a bit of sense as they’re the one telling it, but again probably won’t be that tolerable for a reader.

Finally I’m very aware that my scene-craft is sub-par. When I write I have zero sense of how to balance ‘setting the scene’ with the core action, I’m happy with the majority of my basic conflicts, choices and so forth, but not so happy with my scenes essentially rushing towards them as quickly as possible.


In the past my editing process has been, as I imagine is has for most aspiring writers, a fool’s game of rereading a draft and trying to write it ‘better’. This has a lot of problems with it, at best it tweaks some of the prose to a higher level, at worst it drives you into a hellish loop of second guessing, and missing actually useful editing, like structuring events properly, character development and so forth.

My plan from today is to first essentially synopsis my draft, i.e. read through with a notebook and get the major events and any side-notes down and see if that looks like a palatable novel on a structural level. I’m relative confident that there is a sense of rising stakes with highs and lows throughout, but I’m very sure that the character appearances and development are a mess. I think between showing and telling I’ve tending up avoiding telling and been in too much of a rush to show either!

Once I’m satisfied with the synopsis level of events, I have an unorthodox plan. I’m going to grab a favoured book in the same genre, and imitate its scene-craft. I’m not going to plagiarize or mimic the actual events or plot, but rather I am going to hone my individual scenes to look more like publishable material. As I mentioned above I have no to very little concept of the pacing of an individual scene, anytime I’m not writing something intense I think a reader’s going to get bored and I need to study the pros more closely.

After I’ve done all that I guess I’ll start on the nitty gritty, show don’t tell, murder adjectives, all the rest. I suspect if I manage all the above I’ll probably need a decent percolation break from my draft anyway…


What are you editing processes?

Are there any editing pitfalls to avoid?

Any advice on what sort of book (urban fantasy) I should peruse for crafting scenes?

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