An Ode to Line Editing

Since finishing the draft of my latest WIP, I’ve taken a mini brain vacation (which I have really needed). I used my short break to catch up on reading, binge watching Arrow and Agents of SHIELD, and going outside in the warm weather (what is this outside, and why is it so big?).

I also gave the first draft to my two fabulous Alpha Readers, because I value their opinions and need their objective insight to help me focus the story in the second draft. Which resulted in a lot of nervously checking my inbox and eating ice cream (even though they both read really fast).

But while they’ve been reading the MS, so have I.

Yup…uh…so have I…

What can I say? It’s a first draft. It’s a mess. But it’s a mess with a beginning, middle, and end, all written out. It’s no longer in my head, but an actual, physical thing that I can dissect and mold into something better. And that’s what’s important. Corny as this sounds, you can’t edit what isn’t written.

Full disclosure: I love editing. I mean, I love editing. My red pen is my oldest and trustiest friend (apologies actual friends). I love marking up my MS with my red pen, love making lots and lots of nit-picky comments because I am a perfectionist. And when I finally start that second draft and reference all my notes, I will know exactly what I want to do.

So my general excitement for editing is not just because it gives me an excuse to spend my nights on my couch with my cat.

Although it looks like she’s excited for that part:

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…but because I like the focus editing can give. For me, writing a first draft alternates between a flood and a drought. In one, you’re just trying to stay afloat in a deluge of words, not bothering to take the time to differentiate between the good and the bad writing, just trying not to drown. And in the other, you’re just trying to coax out a little bit of wordy water…

Okay, that metaphor got away from me.

In any case, editing is the water filter. It’s organization and control.

And I love control.

So take control of your manuscript. Edit. Read it. Then edit again. And again. Books require many, many rounds of editing, so make it a zen moment to regain control over chaotic prose.

If you’re like me and retreating into the editing cave, here’s my suggested list of supplies to survive:

  • A fully inked red pen
  • A highlighter in the least offensive color
  • A bottle of your favorite beverage (I like seltzer or tea, but in any case, you’ll need a bottle)
  • Cough drops (if you are reading aloud to measure cadence)
  • Snacks (it is girl scout cookie season)
  • A pet willing to sit on your lap for hours

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