I’ve been taking an editing class, not necessarily because I feel like I don’t know how to edit, but that I am ridiculously inefficient at it and can probably use all the help I can get.
This class’s point is to, eventually, get it so you can identify all major issues in a single pass of your manuscript, so it has several classes where you go through your manuscript looking at certain things with the idea that, in the end, you can find everything at once.
I admit it’s been a bit frustrating doing it piecemeal, but on the other hand, it is helping me find things that I may not have picked up otherwise, and more importantly, it’s helping me solve plot problems that I was unaware existed.
(I am, admittedly, not supposed to be solving plot problems yet. I am writing things down for when I get to that part of the class.)
It makes your fingers itch, to get into fixing things, but I admit this is probably better than doing a major edit (taking a chainsaw to it, as some of my writing friends say) and then having to keep fixing and messing with things until things either work correctly or you go insane trying to keep track of what you’ve changed and why.
I’m using the story that made it through a few rounds of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest for this, which I affectionately call my most complete first draft ever. I remember one reader thought I’d already edited and polished my first draft when she read it, but this process has made me realize there’s a lot of problems, from weird character motivations, to chapters that are in the wrong point of view, to objects that show up late in the book and really should have been mentioned earlier. (Foreshadowing, my nemesis, we meet again.)
No matter how good (or not) it was before, this is going to make it much better, if only because I can better see its flaws.
Fellow writers, what’s your editing technique? Taken any classes that have changed your life?