I’m on the final round of revisions to my current manuscript and considering a new editing process. In the past I have always tended to bite off more than I can chew when revising – trying to look for plot inconsistencies, character missteps (blue eyes one chapter, brown the next), typos, repetition, dull dialogue, boring exposition and errors all at once. What I’ve found is that about midway through the process, I get completely mired in the editing process and start dismantling what is essentially the final version of the novel, as I lose confidence in both the story and myself (you know, the usual author angst!). This time, however, while I am waiting for beta reader feedback, I am looking at adopting an alternative approach and would love some advice.
My current system involves editing throughout the writing process – from editing the first draft (which pretty much equals rewriting) to doing a final line edit on the completed manuscript before I turn it in to my agent. It’s what happens in these later stages that I need to refine. What I am considering is parsing the final editing into multiple discrete re-reads looking for:
- Plot/timeline issues alone – checking for holes, inconsistencies, and errors.
- Character issues alone – checking for inconsistencies, misdescriptions etc.
- Stylistic issues – repetition, boring/dull descriptions etc.
- Final line-edit – looking for grammatical and spelling errors and typos.
Although I’ve looked at all these areas already (multiple times!) while editing previous drafts, with the final version, it’s time to have one more look as invariably I still find errors. My concern is that trying to re-read the final manuscript multiple times to look for these discrete set of issues will be time-consuming and slow (and may possibly drive me demented!).
What I’d love is feedback/comments on what final editing process has worked for you.
- Do you try and do everything all at once?
- Do you reread with specific areas in mind?
- Do you get others to do a final line-edit?
- How do you balance the need for one last look at all the critical areas in a manuscript against being driven crazy after the 50th reread?