What I’ve Learned From Editing

Sorry I’ve been gone for almost a week, but I’ve been busy with Camp NaNo. I’ve been putting 3 hours a day in editing Reclaiming the Balance, which means almost no free time to journal. Today I will make my 30k goal for camp, but I will likely continue editing once I’m done with the goal, because I haven’t yet gotten Reclaiming the Balance where I think it can be.

I’ve done a lot of editing lately between Gaia’s Hands and Reclaiming the Balance, but these are a couple of my first books, so it’s expected.* I’ve learned much about writing novels from editing previous novels and don’t want these past novels to go to waste because their characters deserve to see the light of day.

So what have I learned about writing from editing? Let me think …

  • Structure really helps guide the reader and satisfies their expectations. I use two systems now:
  • Save the editing for later — get the ideas down
  • Don’t repeat first names in your characters (there are some exceptions, such as Senior and Junior)
  • Don’t make people follow too many characters in a third person omniscent**
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

And some things I’ve learned about editing from editing***:

  • Sometimes I have to cut one of my favorite scenes or chapter because it didn’t fit the flow of the book. This happens more if I didn’t use a structuring scheme
  • Sometimes a sentence that made perfect sense to me when I wrote it makes no sense when I read it later
  • I need help — developmental editors, sensitivity readers, beta readers.****


* I’ll admit that both novels are basically romances with somewhat “non-standard-reality” plots. I really don’t know how to classify the fantasy version. Contemporary fantasy? Magical realism? I certainly don’t write elves, sword and sorcery, or vampires. I like to think of my stuff as anthropological fantasy.

** The collective featured in Apocalypse, Gaia’s Hands, and Reclaiming the Balance has 60-70 members given the time period. Apocalypse was a third-person omniscient point of view. I had to pare point of view characters to about 9.

*** I’ve learned more than I’ve written here (action verbs, some description, because vs since, transitions) but those are more about words than writing

**** I proofread really well after the second or third pass, so copy editors and proofreaders are not on my list. They might be on yours.

PS: If anyone can help me with the footnote add-in (Easy Footnotes), I would greatly appreciate it!

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