Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tis the Season to be Editing

Ah, the holiday season. Stores have started hanging decorations and Starbucks has switched to their holiday cup design. And that makes me think... of editing. The time after NaNoWriMo when many writers start reworking manuscripts. Albeit, I'm not participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, but for anyone who is and is finding the prospect of editing daunting, I thought I'd write down some of my favorite methods of keeping editing interesting.

1. Read your manuscript out loud to your favorite stuffed animal. (To be fair, this one comes from my husband who thought my stuffed Darth Vader would be the perfect listening buddy. When it comes to editing, there will be no one to stop us this time.)

2. Cheryl Klein's Aristotle Plot Checklist. I love her thoughts on emotional plot and action plot. A completely fresh perspective to consider your novel from bird's eye view, particularly if you have a feeling that your plot is currently stuck together with duct tape.

3. For individual chapters, I know I mentioned this in a previous post way back, but I really find cutting a chapter apart into paragraphs and laying them out on the table useful. Obviously, this isn't necessary for every chapter or scene, but if I'm having trouble with a particular scene, I find it can jumpstart my brain.

4. Interviewing your character. This can be useful if you're stuck with a character's motivation or if the character really didn't take shape in the first draft. I've heard of people who do this verbally, but I prefer writing letters to my character and then switching ink color to have the character write me back. If your characters get terse with you, all the better, you're halfway to figuring out the problem.

5. Read the first couple of chapters and then the last couple of chapters. Blake Synder suggests this for scripts in his book, Save The Cat, but I think it's equally interesting for novels. Worried your character doesn't have a strong enough arc? Comparing the beginning to the end side by side can be a quick way to start examining this.

Obviously, these methods just scratch the surface when it comes to editing, but perhaps there's one or two that are useful. Anyone else have favorite editing methods that I didn't mention? I'd love to hear other's techniques!

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