• Shelly Powell

What I've Learned About Editing

1. Your first draft is an unpolished gem. That’s how I like to think of it. I can’t tell you how many blogs and vlogs say “Your first draft will suck!” They all say it with such emphasis, such authority, as if they can see right through the screen to all your misplaced commas and redundant words. Well, let me tell you, they can’t! They don’t know you, and neither do I, but I know that a lot of people talk about writing a book and never do. Your first draft is evidence that you are a doer! You’re not all talk. You took action and fought for those spare minutes to write out cool scenes and engaging dialogue. You worked your way through writer’s block and put in the time over and over again to get it done. You did it! You have a beautiful, unpolished gem in your hands. So don’t get discouraged by the work ahead.


2. Polishing takes time! I completely underestimated how much time I needed to invest in editing. I think editing has taken me longer than the actual writing process. Part of it probably has to do with the fact that I’m talking about my experience with my first novel, but it still takes up quite a bit of time out of the overall process. Polishing your book also means taking time away. Sometimes you need to take a break before you can see your book with fresh eyes. If you take a few days or even a week or two away, you will notice new things when you read it, and you will likely notice things that need to be fixed that you hadn’t considered before.


3. Polishing takes research. It has helped a lot to do research on what editing entails, different types of edits, even lists of words to cut out if you can. There will be plot holes to fill, scenes to rewrite, characters to tweak, descriptions to add. Overall structure will need to be considered. And oh, those typos!


4. Polishing means repetition. I underestimated how many times I would have to go through my book, combing it for consistency, typos, and anything else I should have fixed. I have had to do this over and over and over again! The good news? Each time, my book gets a little better!


5. Polishing requires help. It really helps to have another set of eyes go over your book. My husband and friends and even friends of friends (who don’t know me) have gone over my book to add their feedback. Even if they all aren’t strictly editing, they still notice things that I might not have caught.


In the end, I believe it's all about not giving up, holding onto the potential while still recognizing areas that need improvement.


 

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