Editing, or the pretense that it will ever be perfect.

 Every writer has different editing moments. There are the early edits, adding plot points or taking out backstory to keep things moving. Later in the process we continue to check the plot points but start to fine tune the dialogue, the action, the beginning and end of chapters, the punctuation. Then, finally, and for a moment it feels like a reward, the editing of the complete manuscript to turn in to the publisher. This is where what felt like victory turns to ‘I need a drink’. At least for me. Because it feels final (actually, it is final) I begin to re-question everything. Usually my Beta readers haul me back from the edge and I get back to the real work at hand. The final edits. Overwhelming in some ways. Check everything. That’s all. I think every writer has a list of what to do as part of the hedge against insanity. Plus, checking things off a list is universally satisfying. My list is along these lines: 

  • character arc (names consistent and are their emotions developing in a consistent path)
  • chapter breaks/length
  • fine tune the dialogue
  • check description (accuracy, consistency, and things like time of day/length of day)
  • eliminate my personal writing ticks (most writers have specific words they overuse and word search is helpful here)
  • read the entire manuscript aloud in as close to one go as possible. The number of typos, trip-ups in dialogue and other problems uncovered by reading aloud is astounding.

  Right now I’m getting close to this point. Actually I am already working through parts of this list, and it is exciting. I’m curious about other final edit check lists. What gets you across the finish line?  

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