Editing With Susanna Bavin
Here is the third in my series of guest blogs about editing and, this week, I am particularly pleased to welcome fellow writer, Susanna Bavin. Sue lives in a beautiful part of the world, Llandudno in North Wales. As well as writing novels, she presents a thought-provoking blog each week and I'm sure many of you will have received a beautiful picture of a rose or of her beloved home town as a thank you when you leave a comment. I first 'met' Sue during NaNoWriMo 2014 when she became one of my buddies for the month. I soon realised that she was very supportive and through her encouragement, I manage to reach the 50,000 + word count. Since then, we have remained in touch and are hoping to meet up for the first time at the RNA conference in July.
A very big welcome, Sue. Over to you.
What sort of writer are you? Do you belong to the 'don't get it right - get it written' brigade? Oh, how I admire you if you do! The idea that you can fling down that first draft before you concentrate on the editing fills me with envy. Me - I edit as I go along.
One of the times that I participated in NaNoWriMo, I vowed to follow the NaNo mantra and keep going regardless, so instead of pausing to change things, I just scribbled a few words on post-it notes and ploughed on... which was fine until I came to a scene that I couldn't write because it followed on from a scene that existed purely as a couple of lines on a post-it.
So I edit as I write. Which makes it sound as if, when I reach the end, I really have finished.
Not so. The editing-as-I-go isn't editing as such. It's just the way I build my story. Afterwards the real editing starts. Having gone through the process with two novels in a year, these are the ideas I'd like to share. I'd be interested to hear what you think of them.
1. Editing takes time. Don't rush it.
2. Leave a gap between finishing the writing and starting to edit. This will put some distance between you and your beloved book and allow you to see it more clearly.
3. Check your timeline. Here's a timeline howler from my recent editing. An incident happened to my main character and I chopped it in half to create a mini-cliffhanger, with another character's POV scene in between. Great... until I re-read it and realised that the middle scene took place over two days whereas my MC's incident happened all on the same day.
4. Every sentence must pay its way. If it doesn't further the plot, if it doesn't expose character, if it isn't essential, then what is it doing there? Take every opportunity to tighten up your writing.
5. If you have written a multi-viewpoint novel, is it obvious from the opening to each scene whose POV it is, without needing to see the name? Each character's 'voice' should be distinct.
6. Editing isn't done all in one go. It takes several read-throughs.
Those are my tips. What do you think? I hope you'll leave a comment and maybe meet up with me for a chat on Twitter.
Here is the link:
Thank you very much for sharing your editing tips with us, Sue. I like the way you've set them out so clearly and I shall use your advice as a checklist. I'll enjoy ticking each point off in turn. I can relate to point 3 about the timeline already and have had to make some adjustments.
Thank you for reading. Would your list of editing tips resemble Sue's? Would you add anything to it after reading hers? Would you include any others to the list above? As Sue says, please leave a comment. Thanks! :-)
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