A Few Notes on Editing

So John picked up the slack for me on Wednesday, so now it’s my turn to talk to you about what I’m doing for NaNo.

While Apex is our serial novel (which will be resuming in the next two weeks or so) we’ve had a couple of other novels in the pot that are ready to see the world.

Or at least they will be, after I’ve edited them.

So my big girl ‘get paid to do it’ job is editing academic work. So it’s hard for me to turn around and try and edit my own work afterwards. But before I really feel comfy sending it to an editor to subsequently rip apart, I want to at least go through it myself and make sure everything makes sense. So I’m doing that for one of our novels, Codename Argos.

For authors like me who are trying to edit, here are the things I take from my academic side that still apply to fiction.

  1. Clarity. CLARITY is KING. Your story has to make sense. The narrative has to flow. If you/your editor/your betas say ‘I’m not sure why X is happening’ that is where you have to take some time and edit it out. There is a difference between complexity in the plot and confusion in the plot. Even if it doesn’t make sense to me right now because you’re going to bring it back up to me later, it at least has to be clear that this was your intention.
  2. Consistency. This is something that I have to work on myself. Did that character move his left hand or his right? How many times has the same person coughed or muttered or whatever in this scene. Were they eating at the beginning of this scene and now they’re going to prepare food again? Didn’t they just run out of a room to go somewhere else? Is this character even in this scene? I’ve seen editing notes very similar to that in quite a few stories I’ve taken a look at, and even in my own work. When you’re coming out of your first draft and going into the revising stage, I would keep a beat list–where you denote the actions of your characters. This is equally important in action scenes so you can, again, be clear on what is actually happening.
  3. Tone. Especially if you’ve got multiple view points. How do your characters sound? What kind of diction does each one have? Hopefully if your book has more than one character, they’ve come from different places and experience different things. But often, all the characters end up sounding the same, because they’re all talking, well, as the author talks. Each one needs to be distinct. This is even more important if you’re switching into multiple ‘headspaces’ and moving from one character’s POV to another. While you do need to have cohesion, I shouldn’t feel like your characters who may be from different socioeconomic statuses, genders, ages, etc. all sound exactly the same.

And that’s it for now. More tidbits to follow!

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2 thoughts on “A Few Notes on Editing

  1. Nice tips! I’m good with #1 in short pieces of fiction, but struggle with it in novels. I have so many ideas and I tend to be all over the place and repeat myself. Keep it simple and clear. Great tip! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Yeah, it’s something that we still struggle with too! If I have any more snippets to share I think I’ll try and make it a regular thing! Even after we pick Apex of the Songbird back out!

    — Angelique

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