Over the years, I’ve encountered a variety of ways to edit. Writers mould their own personal editing style, but it never hurts to try something new, especially if you’re stuck or looking for a new perspective. Here are a few of the ones I feel stand out.
- The Standard: Your typical editing style. Write a draft. Edit #1 = second draft. Edit #2 = third draft. Going from start to end each and every time.
- The Modified Standard: Same as the standard, but with a break (ranging from 1 month to 1 year) between drafts. I’d recommend 1-2 months, with other projects built in to truly make it feel like a break. This can give you a much-needed “refresh” and allow you to look more critically at your project with fresh eyes.
- The Reader: Read as if you are a new reader; don’t edit. Take notes on the side: plot holes, character development. Things that your average reader would note. This is good for looking at the big picture, and not getting caught up in specific wording or sentence construction.
- The Google Doc: A haphazard reviewing system, where chapters and paragraphs are not edited in order. For the chaotically-inclined.
- The Absentee: One draft for the win! I mean it. Don’t edit. It worked for William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. (You may also need to confine your writing periods to midnight to four AM over a period of six weeks, but I’ll leave that to your discretion).
- The Hairbrush: Possibly the most time-consuming, but my personal favourite. Edit from the start after every addition. So, from the beginning of a novel after every chapter, from the beginning of a chapter with every paragraph, from the beginning of a poem with every line. Very, very time-consuming, but it lets you work out kinks and plot-holes as you go. Think about passing a hairbrush through a particularly tangled knot of hair. Takes a few tries, but you get through.