Everything You Need To Know BEFORE You Start To Edit

Before EditingI finished the first draft of my novel in August last year. I was B.U.Z.Z.I.N.G I’d finally done what I said I’d do – write a book… Ok, I finished a draft.

I listened to the advice you gave on what I should do next, which was… Nothing – Lock the manuscript in a dark cupboard and throw away the key for months. I did. Sort of. I may have peaked at the first few chapters.

That was a mistake.

It was of course, total shit. More than shit, I wouldn’t have wiped my butt cheeks with it. Seriously. I may have cried, ok, I didn’t cry. But I did shed some tears on the inside. All those months of sweat and tapping, for what? A massive steaming pile of turd. A twitch formed on my eyelid as a heady mix of panic and fear set in. How was I ever going to rectify this mess? I hated editing. I can’t do detail and didn’t know a comma from a bloody apostrophe. So how I was ever going to be a writer? I was blocked. Big Time.

Then, I had a realisation.

Editing, isn’t just editing.

I read an interesting (and well-timed) article this week from a woman called Joan Dempsey, in it she described two types of writers.

The – vomit on the page must get the story out on paper at all costs even if it’s a pile of shit – writers

AND

The – I can’t possibly write past a missing comma in this sentence, everything needs to be perfect in my first draft – writers.

I am most definitely the former. I spew out word vomit faster than the speed of light, without a care in the world for grammar, spellings or beauty. It’s ugly, but its out of my head.

The point is, whichever camp you fall into, you will approach editing in a different way. The latter – the edit as you go types – will have less of a task when it comes to their first revision. They may find things that still don’t work, chapters that need to move,  but what they have is probably more fluent with less mistakes than the first group of writers who might have a draft completed quickly but its choc full of problems.

So what do you do?

Well, you don’t edit that’s for sure.

You revise.

I know, I know, it sounds the same. Apparently it’s not. The first step of editing isn’t actually editing at all. It’s revising. Especially if you fall into the first camp.

What’s the difference? Quite a lot so I’ve learnt.

Revising is sorting out the big picture, it’s:

  • Making sure your story flows
  • The pace and structure are right
  • The characters are perfected with the right depth
  • You have a hook
  • Ensuring all the subplots are story lines are rounded off at the end

Editing is sorting out the detail, it’s:

  • Checking grammar
  • Punctuation and typos
  • Checking for consistencies and continuity
  • Its correcting formatting errors

I’m a visual person, so I made a visual – Clearly there are things that overlap, they are in essence part and parcel of one process.

Editing vs. Revising

If you’re intending on working with a professional editor, then there will be dozens of types of edits you could have, from developmental edits, to line edits, and everything in between. If you are paying for it, choose carefully. But I am only at the beginning of this process, and despite what I thought, I’m not even at the editing stage yet! I’m revising.

Changing the way I saw editing, completely removed the block I had.

It meant I was no longer terrified to pick up my manuscript. I could attack the second draft with the same force I attacked the first one; hacking it to pieces and this time crafting something that looked more like a story instead of a turd.

Are you afraid of editing? Which kind of writer are you? The vomit crap on the page kind, or the snails pace perfectionist? Let me know in the comments below.

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141 comments

  1. It is with a weary heart that I do the editing but changing chapters and characters actions I dont mind. What I hate most is synopsis, or the query letter or worrying that you haven`t got a hook for the agent or publisher. In the end I lose my temper with myself and talk sense, if I would buy it, then there is an agent, publisher out there who will.

      1. No, not yet. Am a procrastinator so “I still have time”:)). Plus it seems that the draft is never complete and I always find new ideas to go well in certain chapters. Am a complete mess…

  2. Probably more the second than the first, Sacha. I tried to be more vomit-prone on the latest (finished it Saturday, by the way), but I can’t help myself – I have to go back and punctuate or correct spellings. Even so, I know this will still need a revision before I do full editing. I think the trick is to learn to love every part of the process. Let me know how that works, won’t you?

    1. Oooooh *claps* bravo on completing!!

      Thing is we shouldn’t try to be one way or another. I tried being the latter and all organised and it stifled me. So now I vomit and go with the flow! I guess we just have to find what works 😁 so pleased you have finished a draft 💖💖

      1. I tend to read back a ways not the whole thing. Maybe a couple of chapters just to get back into the flow. It’s a skim usually – unless it feels like it’s shite in which case it goes. The full read through happens at about a third and then two thirds through, so I have a full picture before I plough on to the finish. Same with editing and revising.

  3. Why do most writers have a problem with revising/editing? It is only another form of writing after all. Bit like housework I suppose, there are good bits, bad bits and lets leave that til tomorrow bits!

    1. Haha ‘let’s leave that till tomorrow bits’ that made me laugh. For me it’s the horror show of how bad my work is that made it hard to start. But now I have im rather enjoying it!!

  4. I am definitely the latter! I reread and rewrite every chapter immediately after I have written it. Then the next day, before I begin any new writing, I go over the previous chapter and edit it. It slows me down, definitely, but it keeps me in the right mindset, and helps prevent continuity issues. Then I have a major rewrite and edit of the whole book, starting from the end and reading to the beginning. .. that way you don’t get wrapped up in the story, cos it’s back to front and you can’t follow it, but you do spot the problems and typos etc more easily. I spent a year editing and revising my first book till I felt I could dare put it out there. Thats too long, I wouldn’t recommend it, but that’s what it took for me. I never had the money to hire an editor, but hope to do so with book 3. Having said that, I have read a lot of ‘professionally edited’ indie books, and you can’t tell… such a waste of money! There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there setting themselves up as experts at our expense.

    1. Agreed about the unscrupulous. I really like your method of editing backwards too. I think I’m going to have a go at doing it forwards then employ your backwards method before I hand it over to beta readers. You read the last paragraph first then the previous etc but u read the sentences in that paragraph in order yeah?

  5. Hello Sacha.,
    My ms has been hiding since Jan 2015, I remember at the time writing, but not fast enough for my head. I had been advised to not look at it for a while, let it ferment; so I did. Next I read books on editing and when they made me nervous I went on to sentence structure, and punctuation revision books. Now I had convinced my self that I am missing such a lot of English grammar knowledge that I will never be good enough to write.
    I write every day and have for many years, and I just can’t stop, it is the way I am able to justify myself; it isn’t a hobby somehow it is me. So after a lot of thought I decided to join an on- line writing group and it was there I learned to improve, take criticism and grow, so I started to submit some flash fiction and short stories.

    On the sixth of January 2016 I had an email telling me that a story of mine was being published in a magazine, Not a novel I know, but not only did I get my name in print, I was paid… cash, money, dosh, boodle or brass which ever you want to call it and it wasn’t about how much or how little it was a group of people who deal with “real” writer’s telling me that I am doing something right.
    Today I have read your post and realise If I look at it your way; revision first, it makes sense and I don’t know why I didn’t look at it that way sooner.
    So I thank you for your post. Today is the first day of revision !

    1. Hi Ellen, what a lovely lovely comment to read. Firstly congratulations on getting a story published this is fantastic news and I hope you will take the time to celebrate (I never do!).

      Secondly, I know exactly what you mean about the editing books. I spent so long reading what everyone else thought I should be doing I ended up terrified and rocking in a corner unable to write! It was that point that I decided to be choosey, but mostly find my own way. I don’t proclaim to be an expert, just one writer sharing her journey with others. BUT, and here’s the most important thing I learnt and what helped me with my realisation, there are as many different writing processes as there are books on shelves. We have to believe that whatever way we write, is right for us. Sure, there are some things shared by loads of writers that help, but similarly we are all going to have our own intricacies that are unique to us. For me, its breaking down the revision from the editing. I am SO thrilled to hear that you can start editing now. I was utterly petrified, but you know, after the first couple of chapters I actually started to enjoy it because I had had enough space to see where the problems were and was able to make it better, and that…. that made me fall in love with it all over again.

      I wish you all the best with it, let me know how it goes <3

  6. If it makes you feel better calling it revising, rather than editing, go for it. It’s a bit like beta readers and critique groups who basically (usually) do an MS appraisal or developmental/structural edit in part or in whole, but for free (apart from paid-for beta reads). The process/result is still the same.
    You are right about there being loads of types of edits, and while I agree with you and Ali about unscrupulous types, I’ll defend editors a teeny bit and say sometimes authors don’t know what they want. Or in other cases, don’t accept suggested changes readily. It’s no good an author explaining why a certain section/chapter/character is essential. If they need to explain, it ain’t working!
    I reviewed a book last year (I’ll be mentioning it in my next post) by someone who worked in the publishing industry, had two editors (so she told me), and it was still chock full of errors, including basic plot mistakes. Just aaagh!
    Incidentally, if you are doing a series, write yourself a style sheet, not just for you, but also for an editor if you use one. By the time you get to books two and three, it can be difficult to remember what you have decided for book one.
    Two basics that virtually everyone gets wrong somewhere in the later editing process:
    Check dialogue for punctuation and use of ghastly tags.
    Check compound words, and words that you don’t think are compound but might be. They often are one word, or at least hyphenated.
    The bonus to being the second type of writer, is that you might not have to re-read as many times. The more you read, the less you see. That applies to external editors to some extent too, I like to take a break before final proofreads. Oh, and if you start swapping scenes around, watch out for flow and consistency. I’ve worked on a few books where something didn’t make sense because the author had moved chunks backwards and forwards.
    Happy revision 🙂

      1. What on earth?? I would NEVER delete a comment. EVER. Whether it was criticism or praise. I have had a 4 day migraine. So struggling to sit and reply to everything in one go. Have had to do short spouts to reply and have left some of the longer ones for tomorrow when hopefully I can see the screen without wearing sunglasses!! Also – when a comment is longer I like to give a proper reply which usually means a longer reply, I’m too shaky to do that today. Sorry, I’m a bit crap at responding fast. 😢 will do tomorrow promise. 💖

          1. Well I used to approve everything and go to posts directly to reply, but I found I lost comments in my notifications panel because of the quantity of comments I get. So I decided to try leaving anything I haven’t replied to unapproved so that I can find it easily. It’s never for long, usually I’ll reply the same evening, but I work full time and have a toddler, so sometimes it can mean I don’t reply for a couple days while I’m catching up. But I do ensure I reply to every single one. I will ensure I reply properly tomorrow as soon as my painkillers kick in, but because your comment was so lovely I wanted to give it a proper thought out response rather than just a one or two liner that I could manage at the time.

          2. WP can be a nuisance too. I use the little orange notification drop down box mostly but it doesn’t show everything and sometimes doesn’t work. I was checking back a couple of posts yesterday to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and found two comments I could have sworn I’d replied to. I felt so rude that I hadn’t. Anyone who takes time to comment deserves my time to write a reply. If I miss anything it’s a genuine oversight.

          3. Yes I used to use that box too, but unfortunately it barely holds anything like you say. But I agree, anyone who takes the time to comment will get a reply from me too, but because of the numbers of comments now and trying to juggle life and motherhood I can’t always reply immediately, sometimes it can take up to a week. Thankfully my migraine seems to be lifting today so I should be able to get back on top of things.

          4. Yes, I’m sorry, I meant to ask if it was improving. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and computer screens are not a good mix. While I don’t get migraine I get the others from time to time and just need to leave the screen alone.

    1. Hi, sorry for the delay. So In answer to your points.

      I think it does make me feel better to differentiate the big picture parts of editing (which I am calling revising) from the smaller scale perfecting (which I am calling editing). It helps me to be able to distinguish the different parts and how I can approach them, but more than anything it helps stop me feel overwhelmed.

      I would 100% agree that a lot of authors don’t know what they want when it comes to an edit and the different types, but I think Ali was saying it having seen people get ripped off. But like anything, I guess both parties should be doing their research before going into an agreement with each other.

      This point: ‘it’s no good an author explaining why a certain section/chapter/character is essential. If they need to explain, it ain’t working!’ made me laugh. I follow another editor and she said exactly the same thing! She has taught me how open I have to be when handing my document over, I often hear of people getting scripts back with 1500-2000 tracked changes, I don’t expect anything less in my book.

      The style sheet you refer to, I think is what I call my book bible – A kind of whistlestop of everything – unusual names that need to be capitalised, family links, place names, relevant things in places, timelines, key terms, descriptions of characters etc etc – is that the same thing?

      I agree about the more you read the less you see. I have had a couple of authors make some good suggestions as to how to combat some of the effect, although you can’t overcome it all… obviously time and breaks away from it but also, changing the font and reading it back to front – Ali mentioned that.

      Thanks for reading my post 😀

      1. I’ve done re-edits for people where the original editor/s have missed loads of basic errors, and I’m talking more than a hundred here not single figures. But that is very much the detailed part of editing. What is satisfying, is suggesting structual changes to an author, explaining why, and seeing them redo it and it zzzings much better. I’m not a track changes fan. It’s ok with novellas or as a sample but I can’t see the wood for the metaphorical red pen after a very short while. And it is hellish time-consuming explaining that a sentence needs a full stop at the end of it.
        I think it’s reasonable for authors to ask for a sample edit before they contract with an editor. If someone won’t do that, I would be worried. And, the editor should state clearly what they are going to do, and any changes outwith that are by negotiation eg introducing a deadline. Of course, it’s easier with repeat clients as you both know how each other works. Although it’s still as well to check what you both expect.
        Your bible is more detailed. The style sheet tends to be well, style specific, eg capitalisation, (or capitalization), written in English style (or American, Australian, Canadian), any dialogue quirks eg dialect usage, use of numbers, it’s not so much about plot and timelines but rather Nirvana becoming nirvana in book two. But your bible sounds like an editor’s dream 🙂
        Yes, I change font and font size. That works well although some fonts dont show the difference between ‘ and ’ too well.
        The important thing is to do what works for us, whether it’s printing out and red-penning, reading aloud, reading backwards, changing fonts, or leaving it for weeks or months. You can overedit though! Remember that too.

        1. I agree – only from a writers perspective. But for me the interesting fun bit is the revising, not the editing. I don’t know if you know about myers-briggs but I am a huge ‘N’ which means I don’t do detail very well, and to me, grammar and format are detail which is why i don’t enjoy it that much.

          I think the reason track changes or some kind of method of seeing the changes an editor makes is so that I can learn from their corrections, otherwise I am not sure how I would improve.

          I have heard of sample edits, thats a good tip to remember actually, especially when I get to that stage.

          haha – that’s good to know, I shall continue on with the bible then!!

          1. I was INTP. KAI is a good one too. Done that? Adaptor Innovators.
            Before track changes, people sent work to be edited. Simple as that. Editors are in the business of making money. Not teaching. Depends whether you want to pay thousands rather than hundreds.

          2. I’m an ENTJ. Not heard of KAI, but sounds like Belbin and I’m a Shaper on that.

            Sure I appreciate what you’re saying about editors being in the business to make money. But I take every opportunity to learn I can!

          3. No. KAI is well different. I managed to come out equally for about four or fivecategories on Belbin! Resource, chair, shaper, innovator, maybe plant? 😀 Think I stuffed up the theory somewhere with all that.

  7. I think I’m kind of both. But my lack of experience meant I still had a massive “rewrite” to do after finishing my 1st draft. Now I’m “revising” as you say and every time poeple ask me “haven’t you finished it yet?” I die a little inside because I’m nowhere near finished.

    1. I am right there with you. My lack of experience has meant I am doing HUGEEEEEEEEEEEEE great big rewrites this time round. Its long and arduous but ultimately it will be better for it. and I am so with you on the dying inside!! right there with you.

  8. I read some articles similar to this in the past which made me feel like my habit of ‘editing as I go’ is a fault. I just can’t help doing it! That’s why I’m such a slow worker. (Ridiculously slow.) I tried ‘vomiting’ when I wrote during NanoWriMo and talk about a big muddled mess! Although I do enjoy the fixing process when it comes to articles and blog posts, I don’t know how much I’m going to enjoy fixing a big fat novel! So reading this makes me feel so much better! You just made my day Sacha Black! 🙂

    1. I am so glad you liked the post. It always makes me so happy to know that people have enjoyed it. I have to say, I am saddened to hear that you felt like that because of what others have said or written. I think if there is one thing we can be assured of its the fact that there are as many different writing processes as there are books written in this world! and no one way is better or worse than another, we just have to find what suits us. I am glad you have <3

  9. Great advices. It can really be overwhelming. I remeber when I was writing my first book I changed my perspective while writing. First it scared me but then I simply deleted a whole chapter because it wasn’t fitting anymore.

  10. Thanks for the visual! This is why my edit of the first draft didn’t take long because once I started, I realized I had way too much to figure out. It was easier to make notes along the way and fix them as I type up the next draft.
    Good luck with your revisions!

    1. No problems, glad you liked it. Ahhh yes, I see now, I too make notes as I go, theres kind of only so much you can fix in one go before you end up tying yourself in knots and stalling – or at least for me anyway.

  11. I am the latter, slower writer…but, but, but (if I go on any more I’ll sound like a motorcycle ;)) I’m not yet finished with the first draft of my w-i-p and I’m dreading the revision.

  12. Editing right now and I can definitely see that it’s closer to a revision. Just tightening up areas and making sure the points come across. I have a habit of repeating words a lot too. Funny how people use these terms interchangeably and yet they’re very different.

      1. They’re going. Second time through the book, so I have that ‘not again’ mentality that leads to wandering off. Hoping to finish it in the next few days and jump into the next book. Fingers crossed that things run smoothly.

  13. I’m a vomiter, but with grammatical sentences and punctuation. I love editing/revising, which don’t feel like two different things to me at all. I do tend to leave a lot of detail out of my first draft though, as it’s mainly scene setting and dialogue. I’m not sure it matters how we do it as long as it works and the reader ends up with something they enjoy.

    1. Agreed there are probably as many different ways to write books as there are books! We just have to find what works for us 😊. Sounds like you got it nailed 😊😁😍

  14. One of these days I fully intend to share some of my first editors comments about my novel taken completely out of context. It will make you feel so much better about your draft.

    Oh, and I am definitely a vomit on the page sort of writer. I don’t see how perfectionists are able to get through a first draft.

    1. Oh god really? See my first draft is kind of almost beyond recovery it’s THAT bad! It’s going to take much sweat and tears to bring it back from the brink! Glad you’re a fellow vomiter I also don’t think I’d ever get through a draft if I did it that way, also I’m never sure enough of what I write to know I can move on. So I power through and do a million drafts instead!

      P.s your January did suck too!!

      1. 🙂 Indeed it did. INDEED it did.

        I’ll share this gem from my editor’s comments:

        “Read this sentence.

        Read it out loud.

        Read it a third time.

        This is not a good sentence. This sentence deserved to be edited before anyone else saw it.”

        I went through at least a dozen drafts. I eventually stopped counting.

        1. Shit me! do you know how much this terrifies me (not the comment, the number of drafts!!)
          Haha I’ve had some pretty awful comments too. But mostly because I shared stuff before it was ready!! And before I knew how to write (not that I’m amazing now, I still have a long way to go)

          1. Ha! I now completely understand why so many writers drink to excess.

            Well, when you are ready, I might, maybe, possibly, consider volunteering to beta read for you. Provided of course that your book isn’t about the life and death of a Seagull.

          2. haha we all have some kind of addiction! mine is chocolate! ohh thank you, I appreciate that <3 but you might not be happy… it's about the life and death of a sea… never mind! It's totes not! It's a YA fantasy!

  15. Very useful post, highlighting the ‘big picture’ and ‘small detail’ approaches to working on a manuscript after writing a first draft.

    I always used to spend ages trying to make my first draft as perfect as possible. With my current book I’m trying the ‘vomit’ method. 🙂 It’s rather liberating.

    1. haha, well I am glad its liberating 😀 I have to agree, although oddly, I am edging towards the slower side now I am revising, but perhaps thats a natural evolution?

      Does that mean you’re enjoying the vom fest?!

  16. What a fascinating post. When I edit for someone, I call it editing, but I’ve realised I also revise! I try and look at the whole picture and feel of the book, not just the nitty gritty.

      1. I’ve had some really good feedback from some novels I’ve edited/revised. I do put a lot of time and effort in as I like to do a good job – so I think I should put my prices up 😉

        1. I’m not surprised you get good feedback 💖 you’re a superstar at EVERYTHING 😍 and I know from assignments how much effort u put into feedback 😊 so do!! After all quality IS expensive.

  17. Um, the first type. And I’m ‘editing’ at the moment – which I don’t particularly enjoy, although when something finally sits there and looks good, then of course I feel good!

  18. Oh man… I’m an awkward combination of a perfectionist and a vomit on the page kind of writer. I usually start out trying for perfection. Maybe I’ll have a few nice pretty pages or sentences for an essay…and then I give up and rush through the rest. Sometimes if I spend some time away from my draft and return with a fresh mind, I have a better outlook; however….I’m known for leaving notes for myself in my work. Sometimes I find little “And here it would be a good idea to ramble off on an intellectual tangent…fix this later…” notes.

    1. Interesting. Because the more I edit, the slower I am becoming, don’t know whether that classes me as a mix, but I know for a fact first drafts will always be vomited.

      hahahaha your notes sound like mine!!!

  19. I feel like I’m going to be coming back to read this post for a refresher ever so often. One of the surprising things that I’ve learned about revising over time is how much writing you actually do during this stage. It can come as a bit of a rude awakening, realizing how much of a diamond in the rough that first draft is but I love that feeling when you wind up with something polished in the end. One thing that really helps is setting aside a first draft for a while before revising. It really helps to look at things with fresh eyes when beginning the revision process.

    1. Hi Tonya, thank you for commenting and for reading and for bookmarking it!! Yeah, it is amazing how much writing I have been doing, despite thinking I was going to be ‘editing’. But I am with you, there is great pleasure to be had seeing your rough diamond get polished. completely agree about the time gap. I had a few months off and it was the best thing I could have done 🙂

  20. I’m not really either of those camps. I write a chapter or so, just making it up as I go along, and then the next time I sit down I edit that chapter and then write the next one. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just consistent, and I work on the editing when the whole thing is finished. I find I get stuff finished so much more quickly that way and I don’t end up with plotholes because I’m reminding myself what I wrote before I write the next part.

    Plus you never have to start with a blank page once you have that first chapter done 😉

    1. I actually think you fall into a similar category as most, – lots of people have said they follow a similar principle I think it probably puts you more in the first camp than the last, but only because if you go with the flow for a couple of chapters I’m assuming you don’t plan plan plan those chapters? I do hate a blank page though!!

  21. I found this interesting, Sacha, as what you call the “vomit” process is what I have always taught children to do, minus your graphic description of course. I would tell the children to get all of their ideas down first, without worrying about spelling, grammar or punctuation so much. Once they had their first draft written they were to read through to make sure that they had told everything they wanted, that nothing had been left out, nothing repeated, and that it all made sense (content first). They would then often share with a partner who would comment on what they liked (always first), ask questions about things they didn’t understand and point out places where information was required. They would then revise. I would also give feedback at any time during this process, asking questions to elicit all the information needed by readers, but also knowing how far each child was able to go (still content). Once the writer was happy with the story (and I was happy with their effort) they would check that their sentences made sense (grammar, structure) and make sure that all their capitals and full stops were in place. Last of all they would indicate, usually by circling, words they didn’t know how to spell or thought were misspelled. They would then attempt to correct these themselves. I would do the final proofread with the only changes made used as teaching points with individuals in conference. I had editing checklists for children to use as reference, and spelling resources, including words displayed in the room. Of course, not all pieces were subjected to the entire process. Sometimes it depended upon whether we were going to publish the writing or not.
    Sorry. Long answer. I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

    1. What a lovely response Norah :D. I love that this is what you teach kids to do. I think its perfect for young kids because it gives them freedom and doesn’t let them get caught up in the details of perfectionism. I hope I can employ a similar method with my son. <3

      1. You son has much to learn from your wisdom and experience. I guarantee you will also learn much from him. I always say I learned more from my children than anyone else. They were/are my best teachers. 🙂

  22. Interesting distinction, Sacha, and it helps set the appropriate mindset for the task at hand. “Editing” is used so broadly it’s almost a useless term. I think it makes perfect sense to break it down into separate tasks. I remember one of the first posts of yours that I ever read was about your process, and we had lots of similarities in our approach to drafts. I started out as a vomit-it-all-out writer, but as I’ve learned more about the craft and defined my style, my writing is more edit-as-I-go. I still have to revise. I still methodically go through all my drafts, but there is less to fix than in the old days. Great post.

    1. Thanks Diana glad you think this is a sensible approach. I am trying to blindly find my way though this process, its still all so new to me, and I KNOW NOTHING!!!!! I am stuck at the beginning of my book too trying to deal with the first 5 chapters, and somethings wrong. I can’t figure out what it is, hopefully it will reveal itself. That is super encouraging that you used to be a vomiter and that it gets better. I wonder if you still vomit but more precisely these days? That’s what I’ll be aiming for as time goes by!

  23. A most excellent post my friend. You hit the nail on the head! Editing is different than revisions. I’ve no doubts your book will be fantastic, both in story and style! You’re way ahead of the game if you understand that revisions come before editing. So proud chickee! <3

    1. Thanks Debby glad you agree there’s a difference. Ha, I’m not sure about fantastic but I’m doing what I can it’s slow bloody progress at the moment though. Wishing I could get some solid days to work on it gaaaah. Thank you for saying such lovely things you fill me with confidence 💖

  24. That’s such a great visual! I’m a word vomiter, although when I write magazine articles I edit as a I write, mostly because I’m on deadline and know it will be read by others. I get blocked by the overwhelm of revision because I have too many things to focus on. What helps is to create processes for myself. Working on it! I do “edit” before I send to my editor because I don’t want to look like a complete comma-idiot. 😀 I specifically choose to pay for two edits — first, a developmental edit to make sure I got the revisions on track and then a line copy edit. I have the best editor — Janine at Write Divas. I’m better learning how and when to use beta readers, too. Great post!

    1. Thanks Charli, I know you too like visuals, yours were amazing in your marketing series. I 100% sympathise with getting blocked by revisions. I nearly had a melt down last week over one poxy chapter. Funnily enough, I was considering two edits, dependent on how much I got back from beta reading. Someone has mentioned that publishers don’t do developmental edits any more… shame. I’d be interested in your thoughts on betas Charli…..?

  25. I’m the vomit kind. Most of the time I don’t even use an outline and I just let it flow. Not sure if it’s the best way to things but I hope to catch any holes in the revisions. Good read, Sacha. I’m a fan now😊

    1. Hey Anthony, thanks for reading and commenting. Ha, nice to meet a fellow vomiter. 😀 No outline is proper pantser!I think there are a 1000 ways to skin a cat and if it works for you stick with it 😀

  26. How interesting to learn details about what lays behind … or beyond .. the writing process…
    I guess I am more the snail’s pace perfectionist type… than the genius creative writer who puts it all down in words at the speed of the light…
    (By the way… I am not so sure the legend involving the tortoise and the hare is accurate… I mean under which surreal circumstances would a hare beat a tortoise… nah!).
    Let me explain… I guess the second type has advantages over the first one… and that’s mainly because editing could be solved by paying a service…
    the reverse does not apply… unless you are those types of celebrities who get a biography written on their behalf or something like that—
    Either way… even if you want to write a book all by yourself you can do it once you have the guidelines, plot and mostly the general ideas concerning the course of the story…
    I guess that revising goes deep into those issues… then comes grammar and all the details concerning shapes so to speak… (on the solemnity of language, or why language is also meta language, etc… )… Editing is speaking as the Deus ex Machina would speak, an he likes to speak as one should do…
    All this make me think of the word edition… Don’t you think it is eloquent and also ambiguous that it means “all of the identical copies of something offered to the public at the same time”; and also “something a little different from others of the same type”… [Source Thesaurus Dictionary].
    It seems that editing could be something similar to re-writing, at least at times….
    But also something more painful if you wish… I am thinking now of Hemingway, who said: ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’… And… he was not only a prolific author… but a Nobel Prize!…
    Needless to say that I am sure you´ll rise above any inconvenience in order to deliver something great… Sending love for your week ahead. Aquileana 😀

    1. Sorry it’s taken me a couple days to reply, I like to reply to ALL of your comment, and there was so much I needed to say.

      Haha, well I think its more about the moral!! I am sure that there must be some truth or lesson behind it. After all, when I compare my vomit first draft to a snail’s I have SO much more work to do that I end up making my mountain feel twice as high. I definitely think I will slow down in future. But maybe to a happy medium rather than becoming an actual snail!

      I had this conversation with a friend the other day. They can edit, their command of grammar, impeccable. Mine, is not. I just can’t do it. I said I would die for his skill with grammar, he said he would rather be able to vomit on the page and write a story. But here’s the thing. My first draft is a total mess. I might have vomited it, but it is genuinely a pile of crap, or sick!! haha. Perhaps that is more because it was my first draft, than because I will write like that always. I think even with my other stories, I have improved and make less mistakes. But I definitely see the value in being slower and more methodical.

      They always say, ‘the grass is greener!’

      I think editing, or at least what I am calling ‘revising’ still feels like writing. I am hoping that the next draft, will feel more like edits, which in my eyes, is less writing more tweaking.

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment <3

  27. You are right to distinguish between revision and editing. The first can only be done by you, as it is your inspiration that has created the work. The second MUST be done by a detached professional. You are too close to the work. Not pushing him, as he is job hunting, but my OH has been doing some proofing.editing for me and a mate. Were it not for him, the immortal sentence : he saw a pair of policemen peeing through a shop window would even now be being read by countless readers. I’d checked the book a zillion times and missed it.

    1. Aloha Carol, thanks for reading, glad you agree, and yeah, you’re so right. I am SO bad at grammar and things like that, there is no way I could ever edit my own work, I wouldn’t even try. That sentence by the way, made me laugh out loud!!!! I am going to have to come up with some tricks for editing, at the moment it feels like I am banging my head against a brick wall!

  28. A great post, Sacha. I am in the process of revising before starting the editing and I like the way you’ve distinguished between the two. The huge number of responses shows how interesting and important this topic is to writers. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jan thank you for stopping in. Interesting to hear another fellow reviser. I’m still slogging away at my revisions. Finding them slow and tough but getting there. How are yours going?

      I think editing is so important but just as with writing a first draft there are as many processes as different books on the planet!

  29. Chuck Wendig calls the vomit draft a “zero draft” and it was liberating for me- my first/zero draft reads like bad fan fiction. It also resembles the next draft not at all, I changed everything but the basic premise. It was still useful to learn who my characters weren’t though.
    Currently, I’m writing my third and fourth drafts simultaneously, and my outlines. Third draft for rewriting, fourth draft for revising as I go. Big picture outline for structure, divided up by act and identifying which scenes are major plot points (I use the 3-Act structure and the 7-Point structure as my guidelines). Then I’m making a scene-by-scene outline as I go. It’s as not as bad a process as it sounds, I swear 🙂
    But I’ve found that for revising, having that Big Picture outline is essential for me. Just one document identifying all the major events, for both the “action” parts of the plot as well as the internal stuff for the major characters.
    Don’t know if any of that would be useful to you, but a different way of thinking about it is sometimes all you need to get un-stuck, even if you don’t use that method. Hope the revising goes well!

    1. LOL, I love that – a Zero draft. That is a great name for it. I am the same as you, my second draft is nothing like the first, although maybe I keep more of my basic plot. Interesting that you say third and fourth. I think I have done the same with my second and third. I am doing a major rewrite (my second draft) but then editing backwards as I go so that I pick up errors. But I hadn’t really thought of them as separate drafts until you just said it!

    1. Thanks Colleen, I think its an interesting one, considering the differences between revising and editing, it changed my perspective completely 😀 thanks so much for sharing 😀

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