Back in January, I finished my first, quick edit of From the Desk... and knew that it would not be enough. I needed to roll up my sleeves and dig in. Unfortunately, most of the editing advice I had seen in blogs and writers' sites was only helpful in a vague sense. I knew I had to tighten my writing, but not how. I knew I had to exterminate my adverbs, but I wasn't sure why. Most of all, I saw that I had to "kill my darlings", but didn't know how to make it a mercy killing that would actually make the end result better without them.
Enter a book that has landed itself a spot in my top five writing guides and memoirs: Self Editing For Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. You can read more about the book itself - and find yourself a copy, if you're so inclined - here on their website. I'm not here to review, but here to tell you how I combined their wisdom with a "rainbow editing" tip I saw on a writer's blog several months ago.
Each chapter in Self-Editing focused on a particular skill-set: character voice, dialogue, grammar, style, and so on. Since I mostly do my editing during my lunch breaks at work, I refrained from taking notes, as I was hoping to come up with something portable that would take up a minimum of space. Instead, I flagged each point that I found could pertain to my projected editing process. Once I finished, I assigned a color to each skill-set and consolidated the chapters into checklists: simple descriptions of things I could scan for and mark to correct when it was time to edit my digital copy. Then I bought a set of my favorite writing pens in rainbow colors, and got to work.
I hit the halfway point in my hard-copy edit yesterday, and I'm happy to report that the method is working extremely well, so far! In addition to helping me catch everything, I can use it as a sort of score-card for my writing style: more of one color than another means that it's an area I need to focus on improving when I start work on In The Cards again, this coming April!
Since this method works so well for me, I feel like I should share it with any other writers out there - so expect one color checklist each week while I finish up my editing!
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