Editing is now well under way. I have completed the first two passes. As you may remember, the original first draft clocked in at 130,171 words. The total now is 121,044, a reduction of over 9,000 words. It actually fell to just over 119,000 at one point, until I realised that I needed to add an additional scene to improve the narrative overall. That boosted it up again.
The first pass consisted of going through the whole book on screen, improving as I went. It isn’t a question of simply correcting the mistakes. Typing errors should have been taken care of by the spelling checker before editing even began.
No. The function of editing is to improve the text. The idea is to remove everything that is unnecessary and make the best of whatever is left. This is where too many self-published authors fail. Their editing is inadequate. It isn’t enough simply to go through it on screen. You need to print it out as well and go through it meticulously with highlighters. It is only then that you discover just how wasteful some of your writing is. You repeat things without realising that you have done so, you become over-descriptive, you write things that are irrelevant to the story. Going through it on paper reveals a lot about your work that had previously passed you by. This is because we tend to read more carefully from a printout. It is too easy to skim through stuff on screen.
There will be several more passes, where I will have another look at those pages that have not yet been altered. Then I will go through the whole book again, but this time backwards. I won’t read it literally backwards – that would make no sense – but paragraph by paragraph in reverse order, starting from the last page and working my way forwards. By breaking the text up like this, I lose the sense of continuity, so I can concentrate solely on the quality of the writing. By the time these passes are completed, almost every page will have been altered for the better, and some of them will have disappeared altogether. I will have redrafted the entire book.
Then I run Word’s built-in Editor and an App, called Grammarly, both of which check my grammar and weed out niggly little errors, such as when I deleted a sentence but forgot to delete the full stop, or I missed the closing speech marks off a speech.
Only then does it go to Cuzzy, my wife’s cousin, who doubles as my proofreader.