In progress photo of the cover art for Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story
A week now since the last time I posted something on Thoughts on Writing. Must be time to continue with it.
Anyway, the last time we were here, we were talking about self editing. As I ended, I mentioned that one of the first steps should simplly be to read through one's work, almost as if you were being your own early reader. And as I mentioned, that's what a lot of the writing advice givers suggest. Having done so, we've probably identified a number of things that need to be fixed or made better. Many of those same advice givers suggest that one make several passes through the manuscript, focusing on particular problem areas.
To me, it might mean following the levels of editing we talked about a few posts ago. First up would be structural or developmental editing. Here's where we'd look at problems in the story structure, large gaping plot holes, rampant inconsistencies, and so on. Then perhaps it would be time to look at the actual writing. Does it flow? Is there variation in sentence structure? Is there consistency in your POV, the tense of the story, etc. Then perhaps a closer look at spelling, punctuation,along with a look for repeated words, unneeded phrases, and so on, and finally a final once over just to be sure you haven't missed anything.
And of course, if you have others doing some critique or early reading for you, you would want to incorporate, or at least consider incorporating their suggestions and noted corrections.
Me? I can't say I actually do it as suggested. With the most recent, soon to be published Stone Island Sea Story, I did do a read through once I was finished, but when it came down to the actual editing, I looked for and tried to fix everything that needed fixing. And if truth be told, much of the manuscript had already been self-edited one or more times. The process of writing Darnahsian Pirates ended up being a long drawn out experience, and often when I was attempting to get back to the story, I'd go back and read, and of course edit what I had already written. So parts of it, particulary the earlier parts may have been gone over a number of times. With the first two books, the actual self-editing waited until the story was complete, but then I didn't do a preliminary read through. I just started going through it and fixing or changing whatever caught my eye. In both cases I ended up going through each at least a couple of times if not more.
So at this point our manuscript should be in much better shape than when we first reached "The End" of the first draft. Now might be time to have one or more Beta readers take a look at it, and perhaps even hire or arrange with a line editor for a final look. Of course, the big question for many writers, particularly ones (most of us?) who happen to be on a tight budget, is: "Do I need to spend money? Do I need to have my work professionally edited? Let's consider that in the next installment, okay?