A Few Words On The Editing Process
Entertainment

A Few Words On The Editing Process

The best advice I've learned about becoming a better writer.

13
My Shelby Library

This week, I return to editing. I unpack my pens, take out my notebooks and open my word processor to the same opening chapter, visiting familiar first lines I have visited hundreds of times before—begrudging passes and red ink at 3:00 a.m. with only caffeine to fuel me.

It's nothing new for me. My world seems to always come back to editing at some point. In 2013, I started and finished a journey in writing my first novel. Quite coincidentally, I began attending college around the same time. A full plate of writing and essays since entering school and an even bigger project when I realized that my lovely first draft of a novel was not finished until I had edited it. For most students, the idea of editing the average essay is a painful thought. My novel had landed somewhere around 155,000 words.

It fills me with dread just thinking about it.

After three years of working, college and writing in conjunction, I've learned a thing or two about the editing process. That which has brought out the best in my academic writing has, in turn, brought my novel where it is today. The struggle is ever-present and complicated, but these are a few of the best pointers I've found for editing one's writing, both creative and professional.

Distance is key.

Contrary to the popular trend of the all-nighter, most of us need more time to edit than 24 hours (not to say I haven't been there, but hear me out). Any time we write a first draft, we are only experiencing what Terry Pratchett called “telling ourselves the story.” Whether it's a 2,000 word essay or a 50,000 word novel, early drafts tend to spill out in messy, unpolished concepts. Revision and editing are not new applications to remedy the chaos of a first draft, but distance is often very important in churning out quality products. I usually give 48 hours to return to papers for classes, and a minimum of two weeks before returning to any creative project. The less familiar you are with your work, the easier it will be to edit and find your own errors in the long run.

Kill your darlings.

The art of writing is paired, hand in hand, with the art of deleting. Another quote about writing often coined and used is the famous “kill your darlings," meaning we must part with aspects of our projects, even if we love them. Once you're put some distance between you and the draft, you often find yourself with a slew of content you no longer need. After multiple edits, actually, a work can begin to reshape or even change altogether. Some of the most difficult points in the writing process are where you have a piece that you absolutely, completely and totally adore, and it no longer fits with the rest of the work. I tend to keep a file for deleted scenes or sentences I'm fond of. They always find their way back into your writing, one way or another. Sacrificing words from a work will often strengthen it, in the long run.


The more eyes, the better.

When all editing is said and done and you have properly cleaned up your work, it is in your best interest to hand off your writing to a few trusted friends and well-read eyes. For some, the idea of opening an unfinished work to criticism causes more anxiety than finishing the work itself. Nevertheless, there is something great about the presence of a reader in a project. My beta-readers, past and present, have been some of the most valuable voices in changes and last edits. They can catch errors, continuity problems and tone changes that you might have otherwise missed. It can be a frightening part of the editing process, but worth the bravery it can take.

What are your favorite pieces of editing advice, or tricks that get you through a drafts? Do your processes differ with your creative and academic work?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

For a long time, Goya has been a staple in some Latino households. People carry around jars of Adobo when they eat at friend's houses and packets of Sazón Goya can be found in almost everyone's pantry. Many BuzzFeed lists, videos, and memes aimed at Latinos reference Goya somewhere.

But in a year that just keeps hitting us with bad news, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue said that Trump was an "incredible builder" and that the US was "blessed" to have him as president at a White House event on Thursday.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Everything You Need To Know About COVID-19 Outcomes, Because It Has To End Eventually

You've heard a lot of possible outcomes thrown around, let's break them down.

If you log into any social media app, you will be overwhelmed with self-appointed experts, preaching the correct way to end this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from the comfort of their La-Z-Boy chair. Aside from those dramatic children on TikTok, it's all anyone can talk about. There's an obvious reason for this — the pandemic has taken our world and flopped it on its head, bringing confusion, angst, and an obnoxious amount of sourdough bread into our lives.

All this to say, it's easy to get lost amidst the storm of arguments online. Instead, it's best to break down what's actually going on so we can have an educated perspective as we look to work together to move past our current predicament.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Raven Baxter Was Our Favorite Teen Fashion Icon And We're Still Recreating Her Best Looks, Here

We take a look at Disney's most fashion-forward show to recreate some iconic looks.

Disney Plus

I grew up in the early 2000s. And, like any child at the time, I was hooked on Disney Channel shows. My favorite was and is "That's So Raven."

Raven is a teenage psychic navigating life in hopes of not revealing her powers. Only her family and close friends know she has them. Her powers oftentimes get her in trouble, which is where the comedy comes in. But, they also teach her and her friends sentimental life lessons.

Keep Reading... Show less

Sobriety is so underrated, even when it comes to healthcare. The instant gratification of a substance or drink isn't exactly as gratifying as some people may think. For those of you who've never been hungover, consider yourself lucky — a hangover is biologically horrifying. A hangover is not instant gratification, so who are we kidding when people say "it just feels good." Being healthy actually feels good and won't hurt you or your bank account in the morning. The best way to be healthy is to choose sobriety.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ah, yes. The juice cleanse. Yet another popular diet trend that promises to magically solve all of your health, nutrition, and weight issues.

When you take a close look, juice cleanses aren't as magical as they are made out to be, and in fact, they might do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

Unauthorized Plastic Surgery Is Totally Unethical, And Happening WAY More Often Than We Know ‬

Plastic surgery for cosmetic enhancements has you looking more botched than beautiful and it’s painful to see.

Coming from someone who could afford numerous cosmetic enhancing procedures I would never in a million years cut up my face or my body. I'm pretty emphatic and when I watch these brainwashed victims with bandages and chronic inflammation (swollen lips) I literally feel their pain.

Keep Reading... Show less

I've never been big on casual wear or athleisure. Most people who know me have never seen me in sweats. But, I do have those two or three pairs of sweats I can't resist climbing into the second I get home, the newest addition of which is the extra cozy Odyssey crewneck sweatshirt I got in an XL size to feel as close to being wrapped in a blanket at all times as possible.

In the past several months, I've started to expand my horizons, considering the ways in which I can bring my small wardrobe of comfortable bedroom clothing into the public. I've experimented with topping leggings and a sports bra with a denim jacket to the park, and an oversized sweatshirt worn as a dress, cinched at the waist with a belt when I'm out wearing leggings.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

How To Dress Like Your Favorite 'Insecure' Characters — Without Spending $2,000

We take a look at the fashion of Insecure season 4, and how you can create these looks yourself.

HBO

Insecure is one of my favorite shows ever. It really encapsulates what it's like being a Black 20-something, trying to navigate the many ups and downs of life. Issa, Molly, Kelli, and Tiffany are living their best lives in California while dealing with the twists and turns that come with that.

From life to relationships to careers, this show truly captures everything that runs through my mind on a daily basis. The show has a sense of realness and a strong frankness that makes you gravitate toward the characters and root for their success.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments