Writing is about editing. We all know that. However, that doesn’t answer the question when to edit. There are a few basic options.
- Write a draft straight through, perhaps making notes on things to be changed, but use a one directional process. Don’t second guess yourself.
- Write a good chunk of the manuscript and then revise. This level of revision may involve deleting parts, adding parts, re-ordering scenes, and, of course, fiddling with words.
- Revise each page as you go. Perfect the page then move on.
Pros and cons can be argued for each process.
- Write straight through and you risk going far down a path you later eliminate entirely. On the other hand, no time was lost in detailed revisions prior to scrapping entire sections.
- If you revise section by section too much time can be put into the earlier sections and less into the end. Sometimes it shows!
- Aim for perfection and prevent yourself from moving on. What happens when those perfect sentences end up not belonging in the manuscript at all?
I suspect that authors evolve. For example, the more experience you gain the more confidence you might have in a story arc (and therefore revise each page to perfection as you write). Sometimes the story itself drives the path – the words are flowing and stopping to revise is counterproductive. What is your early editing path? Revise, revise, revise or first reach for the end?