Monday, October 29, 2012

Writing Panel 3! The Editing Process!

I have picked my five of my favorite authors/writers. They are going to be talking about their writing process.  So stop by the next couple of weeks on Thursdays to see what they have to say!  Now on to the introductions!

Carrie Butler: Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.


Komal Lewis: Komal Lewis is a full-time author who lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, and one too many cats and dogs. She is overly enthusiastic about video games, comic books, Spiderman, Byronic heroes, baking, reptiles and pretty shoes.
Komal recently finished her debut novel, IMPOSSIBLE, a YA Contemporary Romance about a girl who will do anything to become popular, and the rocker boy-next-door.

Joe Lantz: Joe works as a substitute teacher for Ripley Central School in WNY while he works on his YA novel and waits for a permanent position as an English Language Arts teacher. He had the great fortune of being Michelle’s student teacher and the even greater fortune of developing an enduring friendship with her, which includes time spent writing in a local library.  He is an avid reader and writer. He also enjoys collecting and reading comic books and graphic novels. He can also be found on  blog – the one Michelle encouraged me to start – Avid Reading, Constant Writing.

Bonnie Rae: Bonnie spent her early childhood in the sunny state of California. At the time, she was an only child with a very large imagination. Thanks to her Grandmother, the love of reading books started at a very young age. Every walk to the grocery store meant an ice cream cone and a new Little Golden Book. Through books, Bonnie learned you could be transported into other worlds. The addiction was instant. At age eleven, her grandparents gave her E.B. White's Charlotte's Web for her birthday. Even though she was completely grossed out when it came to spiders (and still is), Charlotte's Web fascinated her. A spider that was able to weave words and befriend a pig? Bonnie then realized not only could books provide imaginary worlds, they confirmed anything was possible. She might have only been eleven, but she knew writing was what she wanted to do. She started her first set of novels at the age of sixteen and has been writing ever since. Bonnie currently lives in California with her wonderful husband and two very spoiled cats.
I am excited for this week (in a weird way). The editing process is the hardest part of writing for me. It’s when you give your “baby” to your friends or not so much friends and they really dive into it.

Editing time!
Can you describe your editing process for us?

Carrie: Absolutely! After the first draft is complete, I usually take another 2-5 passes at it. Then it goes out to my critique partners for feedback. I had 7 for Strength, but I plan on less for the sequel.
After I implement my critique partners’ suggestions, I go back and forth with them until I have a nice, clean copy to send my beta readers. I had 4 of those, last time. (Lather, rinse, repeat.) Now let’s skip forward, past my book deal, to the next level of editing.
Working with a publisher is a similar experience, but it feels different. More pressure, less doubt. Content edits, copy edits, etc. You know you’re working toward something now. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and, this time, it’s not a train! ;)
Learn to love that red ink, my friends.

Komal: I give myself a few days off, not two weeks like everyone recommends. The reason for this is because after I finish my first draft, I immediately know what rewrites I need to do, and I just want to get it done. I edit on the Word document first and then I print it all off and do line edits. Then it gets sent off to my critique partners. I implement their feedback, do a final round of edits, and have a beta-reader go through it. Rinse and repeat.

Joe: I can only really talk about how I edit for others at this point. I have a feeling I’d take the same approach for my own work.
First, I read the draft through to enjoy the story for the sake of enjoying the story. I would only mark something that really, really, really interferes with my reading. Second, I ask myself questions about the story. For example: How was the story? Did the narration have flow? I jot down the answers to those and many other questions as informal notes, notes I’ll use on my next read. The third step I take is to read the story again with my notes on hand. This time through I am looking for spelling errors, punctuation mishaps, and the like. The fourth step is to read through once again offering suggestions to the author. The suggestions are often about clarifications, character names, continuity fixes, and many more. My final step is in the editing process is to write a letter to the author. The letter provides an overview of what I liked/loved about the work, what I did in the editing process, and how much I hope I have helped move the work forward.
My editing process is time consuming but one I feel worth spending the time on. Someone has trusted me with his or her work and I’d better be bringing my A game to the editing process. As a writer, I know how hard it can be to hand over a manuscript or even a short story or poem you’ve poured yourself into for some to read, so the fact that an author has trusted you says a lot about you and you’d best prove that trust was warranted.

Bonnie: A lot of screaming, crying, self-doubt, and chocolate. Okay, maybe not that exactly, lol. After I do my first draft I send it out to my lovely CP's and beta readers. I take about a week or two off and just work on something else. Give my eyes and brain a break from my current story. Then once I get the story back from CP's and beta's I go over all of their comments. I give myself another thirty days to do rewrites/edits/revisions. After that, I send the MS off to the editor.

Why do you think it is important to have other people edit your work?

Carrie: They catch things I can’t. They’re unbiased, objective, and bring their own strengths to the table.
Besides, they don’t have the whole story playing out in their heads 24/7. They read what’s on the paper. ;)

Komal: Chances are you could be cuckoo, and think your story is a masterpiece when it really isn’t. But, in all seriousness, it’s so important to have other people look at your work. The feedback is a necessary part of improving your story.

Bonnie: I am going to put these two questions together.

I found my editor through an online writing group. She is a professional editor and also a writer, she had all the right credentials and experience, plus she gets my writing style. That's not to say she doesn't suggest I make changes, because she does, and I am grateful for all the hard work she puts into my novels. In a perfect world, I would never have to use anyone else.

As a self-published author I think it is incredibly important to have another pair of eyes edit my work. Especially a credited editor with plenty of experience, because let's face it, all writer's make mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes. I am totally not ashamed to admit that. My first novel had its issues and I learned a plethora of stuff from the experience of not having it properly edited the first time around. Mistakes were missed and readers were very quick to point them out. Live and learn right? I actually took the book offline and had the editor I currently use, fix those mistakes and work with me to create a better reading experience for readers. There might still be a mistake here and there (heck even majorly published books have them), but it is nothing like the first version I put on line. Being self-published I refuse to cheat my readers into reading a horribly written and horribly edited novel. I am trying to create a respected and well done product for the reading public. Not having it professionally edited would just create a poorly done piece with a bad name. I take my writing very seriously. My novels are my babies. If I didn't get them edited and have them put through the ringer before publishing, then I couldn't call myself a real author.  I am not saying everyone loves my books. People might not like the story, and that is perfectly okay, but I don't want them to hate the writing in general because it is riddled with mistakes.

Any tips, tricks, or strategies to help other writers when proofing their own work? 

Carrie: Read it out loud. Seriously. Not only do I spot errors more often, but it helps me hear the cadence of my phrases. It’s a really helpful step.
Oh, and print that bad boy out (or send it to your e-reader).  You’ll be surprised how different the manuscript looks/reads away from your word processor.

Joe: The first piece of advice: Find someone you can trust to edit. Trust that he or she will protect your work from prying eyes. Trust that he or she will be dedicated to the task. Trust that he or she will give feedback to you straight without hemming and hawing. You want someone honest, someone who will tell you the truth and not just tell you what you want to here. Constructive Criticism.
The second piece of advice: When you go to edit your work, give yourself sometime away from the manuscript. If you finish on a Monday, set aside the manuscript until the following Monday so you can come at your work with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts.
The third piece of advice: Remember that you most likely are your own worst critic. Try to cut yourself some slack.

What do you do if someone gives you a critique you don’t like? How do you handle it?

Carrie: I weigh it against the other critiques I receive. If it’s repeat feedback, I have no choice but to accept it. If it’s not, well, this is a subjective business. Not everyone will like what I write. It doesn’t mean I have to change everything on a singular whim, you know? It’s a judgment call.

Komal: I’ve been given mixed critiques before, which confused the heck out of me. I considered the three different viewpoints, read through my story and incorporated the ones that I agreed with. At the end of the day, it’s my story and only I can make the final decisions for it. You just have to go with your gut feeling.

How do you talk yourself into deleting a full scene or chapter, or something people thing weighs down your manuscript?

Carrie: I have a special folder for my deleted scenes and chapters. That way, I can go back and scrap them for parts later. Recycling, FTW!

Komal: I just do it. If it’s not resonating with someone else, or with me, it’s got to go!

Any advice for writers about the editing process?

Carrie: Edit your manuscript as many times as your patience allows… and then do it one more time. You know, just in case. ;) You only get one chance to make a first impression!

I also want to say "Congrats" to Komal who had her debut week with her contemporary novel IMPOSSIBLE. You can head over to A Dash of YA for a chance to win a copy!


  1. Another great panel! Thanks for sharing these, Michelle. :D

    And congratulations to Komal!

  2. It's funny how similar some of our answers are.

    Thanks for the shout out, Michelle! And thank you Carrie!

  3. Great advice from all of you! I also find that I don't need much time to go back and edit. Usually bits and pieces of things that need to change start immediately. It's hard to give it that little bit of time at all sometimes, then others it's hard to get the motivation to reread my manuscript for the billionth time :) But such is the writing life, and we love it, no matter how many steps it takes, or we wouldn't be here. Thanks again!

  4. so much advice! and i love the format!