Deep into Edits

A few lives ago I worked as an editor for a magazine, then for another publication, and then as a technical editor. My method at the time was to scrape my eyes down each manuscript in several passes to ensure that I found everything. I had a checklist I used.

Later, I reduced the number of passes because the publication cycle moved into overdrive and I didn’t have time to do more than two or three passes through a manuscript. But I still used my checklist, I just didn’t take as long.

Now I am fully occupied editing Secret Project #2, which is a gaming supplement. The editorial work is very similar to the technical editing I did once upon a time. I wish I still had my old checklist. Since I don’t, I’m using the publisher’s style guide to pants my way through it. (My internal editor just died a few deaths at that idea of “pantsing my edits.”)

While I work, I’m creating my own checklist, just in case I need to edit non-fiction again. Who knows, maybe it will be useful for fiction, though I doubt it.

With fiction, I’ve taken the comments I see from the editors who look at my stories and I’ve put them in a list so that I can learn to make fewer mistakes. Or at least correct them before I send the stories to an editor. I probably need to create a checklist for fiction as well. Though fiction is a lot slipper than non-fiction and it’s hard to hear what is just one’s voice and what is wrong.

Just like the old days, I’m plagued by a lack of time, so sometimes my stories will go to editors with their little slips still showing. I’m ok with that, even as I try to dress them right before sending them off into the world.

A deep dive into edits is my life for the next week, followed by work on the graphics needed for the project. I long to write fiction again. I actually long for the 52 Stories in 52 Weeks discipline, but I am certain that is nostalgia. Some of those weeks were pretty hard.

Just like this week’s deep edit. Well, I learn the most when it’s hard. So let’s call the next ten days a learning experience.

I hope you are also learning a great deal, but perhaps without the pain and difficulty. Be well, friends!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. When I do mine, it’s cycling (or moving around in the story as I call it), pulling it all together. Though DWS says it’s for setting, I’m using it for the current story for character (and I expect that will change to something else later on). I also do passes with Grammarly, since I’m a terrible typist and make an astounding amount of typos. When I get to the climax of the story, I’ll suddenly get an overwhelming urge to do a full cycling pass. So I start at the beginning and clean any loose ends up, write the rest, cycle that part, and it’s done and off to the copy editor. My cycling passes are pretty good–I catch all the typos. So the copy editor is finding klunky sentences and places where it made more sense in my head than on paper.

    Don’t sweat the edits too much.

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  2. Thanks! I like cycling for short stories and even for a lot of non-fiction, if it’s in a narrative form. I’m usually a pretty clean writer, but I still have issues I need to be mindful of, which is why I’m keeping a list as I get edits back from copyeditors.

    Your point is definitely a good reminder for me, especially once I have to change my mental frame from this editing work to my writing. Sweating the edits in fiction can be deadly to my writing. It’s also helpful to see what you do as you write novels. They look so breathtakingly big from my perspective that I’d completely forgotten about cycling.

    This gaming supplement is a different order problem. No narrative flow at all. Instead it is comprised of short informative segments. Lots of charts, rows of numbers, dates, and checks for consistency. Then there is the issue of modifying my collaborator’s language so that it sounds game-focused rather than like an academic article and figuring out which technical terms need to be explained further for the likely audience. It’s basically technical editing, similar to the work I used to do when I wrote and edited tech manuals for a living.

    And writing this comment to you has been useful in figuring out why this feels hard. I just need to remember what I used to do to make it feel easier. I mean other than taking breaks to talk to co-workers and easing my anxiety by writing fiction. 😉

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