Monday, November 5, 2012

Editing With Style

What's your editing style?

a) Do you revise as you go?

b) Let the words fly and edit later?

c) Employ a mix of both a and b?

My style is a definite c, as my inner editor never shuts up. It's been a road of ups and downs, but I've learned to reign in little miss mouthy editor for a pretty happy balance. 

I'm curious about your editing process. What tricks help you jump the hurdles? Aside from Spell Check, what essentials do you use before hitting send?

I use a combo and I...

1) Allow myself to write badly. I'm not good at this naturally, as the inner editor combined with perfectionist tendencies wants to get everything right the first time. However, I've learned that it's okay to crank out less than perfect stuff at first. 

2) Print it. There's something different about reading words on a screen versus words on a printed page.

3) Let it rest. Stepping away for a few hours to a few days offers a fresh perspective.

4) Read it backwards. Don't do this often, but once in a while it helps

5) Get an outside opinion. Sending it off to a fellow writer offers benefits galore.

6) Read it aloud. Then read it aloud again. Slowly. The ear is a great editor, catching typos and rough spots the eyes miss.

Simple stuff, right? But good tools to polish and perfect, I'm thinking.

While we're on the subject, I thought this article, 4 Ways to Revise as You Write offered interesting editing alternatives. See if you agree.

So what's your editing style? Do you have any tips to share? What are you editing these days?

Happy writing,


Photo Credit: Stock Exchange


  1. I never heard of reading it backwards! I must try that!
    I edit as I go, then print it off and read it out loud and then step away for a few weeks.

  2. Yes! An author friend of mine recently told me to read my final proof backwards to catch any final errors.
    I'm a bit of a "c" too.
    Since taking a Fast Draft course, I've learned to let the internal editor go more than I have in the past.

  3. I just finished my first round of editing, which includes a brief break and then reading through for typos, funky sentences, research issues, etc. My next step is to lob it on some readers and after that, I'll input their advice, and then print it up for a final read. :-)
    I'm a C like you though, because I do tend to edit as I go.

  4. Karen, really good post! I'm a definite c...but sometimes I can paralyze myself by wanting things to be right the first time!

    I'm off the read the article. Thanks!!!

  5. Terri,
    Yes, give it a try and let me know what you think! :) Stepping away is a big help, isn't it?

    Backwards sounds weird, I know, but it can be a help. I need to check into that Fast Draft course! :)

    Cheering you on with the editing! looking forward to your next book. :)

    I wonder if most of us aren't a type c, you know? Hope you like the article!

    Happy writing,

  6. My answer is C

    I do believe in reading out loud as we revise. You pick up the mistakes, typos, and flow.

    Great post, Karen!

  7. I do both. I can't help but edit as I write and I often go back and re-read before continuing.

  8. I write the column out longhand, editing like crazy as I go. Then when I type it up to send, I re-edit and polish.

    Somehow, the writing of it longhand helps me process it. And I agree, "the ear is a great editor."

    Very interesting post, Karen!

  9. NaNo taught me to edit later. I chose my words carefully as I write, which slows me down worse than my slow typing speed. But it's not such a mess when I finish. And I always print out my work. I have a difficult time finding mistakes on the computer screen.

  10. I sometimes write in long-hand. Other times, I use my NEO and load it into my computer. I can't help it,I edit as I go.

    I let it set for a while and then read again for errors.

    The article gave me some ideas to think on.
    Thank you,Karen for this information.

  11. I'm a "c" person too. I can't let go of that inner editor!

  12. Oh, boy, my internal editor just won't shut off EVER!

    Nice post!

  13. It's always interesting to see another writer's editing style. I write badly, too.

  14. Loree,
    I'm with you; reading out loud is such a big help. Besides, you can add your own inflection as you go! :)

    I am always backtracking on most of what I write. I've come to accept it as my style. :)

    I used to write everything out longhand. After I got my first laptop though, I started typing, and now type everything unless I'm away from the laptop. :)

    You know, I hadn't thought of that perk from NaNo! Hmm, interesting. One of these years I'll be jumping on the NaNo wagon.

    I've heard you talk about your NEO - glad you've found it helpful! Also glad that I gave you some ideas! :)

    You know, "c" is also for chocolate. Just sayin'! :D

    I know, me too. I'm thinking she's still cranking while I'm sleeping too. lol

    I know, writing badly has really freed me up in some ways. Love it, as long as I fic it. :)

    Happy writing,

  15. I guess I'm about like everyone else. Write quick, edit a little, let it sit, read out loud. All good tips, but never, never have I heard of reading it backwards. LOL I'll give it a try sometime.

  16. I'm a C/A because it has to create momentum before I can keep going. If I'm starting ch. 19, which I just happen to be doing, I'll start a new day at the beginning of the chapter, and every time I stop, I'll begin again by going back to the start of the chapter. I feel like a kid on one of those skateboards at the bottom of a hill. I have to really push to get to the top, (reading what I've already written) so the ride down is terrifying and fast!

    I've got to admit, I've never gotten why we should read in reverse. The words make no sense. How do you know if there's something wrong?

    "Addiction an like him driving isn't dead is Brigitte why out find to urgency the when only that's but."

  17. I think even I am a combination of both a and b.
    I have been writing assignment these days and my edition style is more like, write, and at the end, read again. Don't check the mistake. Then read it again, and then start wherever change is needed. As mentioned already, I also feel the difference between reading on screen and reading on a paper. I love to read it more in a paper.


  18. Susan,
    Yes, let me know about the reading backwards thing. Don't recall where I heard it. Strange, I know! :)

    Like I told Susan, not sure where I heard about it, but in a weird way I've found it helpful sometimes. Not sure why! :) LOL

    I'm with you; I like reading it more on paper to make sure I catch the rough stuff. It depends on what I'm working on too. :D

    Blessings all,

  19. I do what you mention, except for the reading it backwards. I've just never wanted to do that.I usually edit as I go, too. I also like to use the 'find' button and look for those pesky and/or passive words that we use too often.

  20. Great post, Karen! I'm a definite "C," also. I definitely cannot completely stop the editing. I also do 2,3,5, and 6!

  21. Karen- I think I am also a "c". I also like to do #'s 3: let it rest and #6. Letting it rest is a good thing, fresh eyes are just that- fresh in the morning! Also, reading it aloud is great for catching rhythm, phrasing- I have my children do this when they write!

  22. Janet,
    That's a good point - the find option in Word. Glad you mentioned it. I use that sometimes. It's a big help! :)

    Thank you! Always good to see you. :) Your style sounds much like mine.

    Yes, a rest is a good thing. I've scooted too many things out the door that weren't ready. Live and learn! :)

    Somehow I would have guessed that! A good thing, I think! :)


  23. I'm more 'c'. If writing non-fiction, I do tend to edit as I go, and in fiction let it flow and edit later.

  24. I always write first, and then edit. I may need to use a dictionary or the spell check. I read my writing over and fix mistakes right after I'm done with that item. Sometimes I miss a typo or misprint after several reviews.

  25. Interesting--I've never read my stuff backwards either! But I'm willing to try if it will help. I'm a mix of both. There are days when I let it roll without looking back over the page, other days I get stuck on a thought and stay there, editing to death. It can be quite frustrating at times. I'm aiming for faster first drafts in 2013!

  26. Lynn,
    Yes, some depends on what I'm writing too. :) We all get there in the end!

    I miss typos sometimes too. It can be rather maddening! Oh well, just do the best we can, right? :)

    The backwards thing - I can't do it all the time, just once in a while. Editing varies with me too and sometimes I need to talk myself through it cause I could edit till I turn 100. lol :)


  27. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I always plan to read a new mss fully and then start editing but everytime I catch myself already editing as I go.

    Then I read aloud to myself to see how it feels. Editing two different works now. One is a biography of a young man who has been through Hodgkin's Lymphoma and survived. The second- a contemp romance.


  28. I try to write fast then edit later. Sometimes, I can't help myself though and I start to edit early, but it slows my pace.

  29. I've never heard of reading it backwards! That sounds interesting so I'll have to try it. I follow similar steps to yours, but I save the read aloud step for stories, poetry, and my novel.
    Great post! I'm a mostly "a" person with some "c" moments. I have a hard time letting spelling errors go by me unnoticed . . .although it definitely happens sometimes.

  30. Nas,
    You are welcome. :) Just wondering how everyone else likes to edit. Love hearing what everyone has to say! Best wishes with the edits!

    I hear you, I have to work hard sometimes to not get slowed down! LOL

    You'll have to let me know if you give the backwards thing a try. I can't ignore spelling either, especially with Word noting it right before my eyes!

    Happy writing,

  31. Hi Karen...When I finish writing, say, a column, I let it rest overnight Then, the next day, as I am re-reading it, I cut, change, add, whatever.
    By the way, thanks so much for your visit and comment today. Susan

  32. Yes, it's C for me too, and I must admit to reading aloud as I go from time to time. Boy... does that pick up some clunky writing.
    Dotti :)

  33. Susan,
    Resting is a good thing, for us as well as our writing. LOL :) Always enjoy my stops at your place! How is that sweet grandbaby?

    Somehow I thought you were a C just like me. :) I like how you said that - "clunky writing". That's a great name for it!


  34. I edit as I go, and I wish I didn't! Two consecutive years of NaNoWriMo taught me the benefits of writing like the wind to get the story out and revising later, but editing is a compulsion and I can't seem to stop myself. I don't know if it's a curse or a blessing!

  35. I use style b
    First allow things to flow.... then you can do the sorting out :-)

  36. Lisa,
    You know, someone else mentioned that about NaNo - hadn't thought about it but I can see where it would be good. If I find an "off" button for my editor I will let you know! :)

    It's nice to meet you, so glad you stopped by! It's nice to hear how everyone likes to work through the writing process.

    Happy writing,


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!