I am trying to collate information on all the things that a writer would do well to apply when he/she gets on to the revision/editing or what some call "Second draft". Few things that I think are of indispensable are toning your characters, dialogues and of course, filling in the gaps in the story. What do you keep in mind while revising?
Some things I keep in mind:
1. Every scene should advance the plot and/or illuminate character. If at all possible, it should do both.
2. Every character in the story should have a job. In other words, he or she should be necessary to tell the story. Sometimes, a writer includes multiple characters who have the same job, like providing the protagonist with a sounding board. It is sometimes possible and desirable to eliminate some of the characters who have the same job.
3. Does the dialogue or the exposition contain unnecessary repetition?
4. Does the exposition belabor the obvious? Does it include boring, unnecessary information? Does it tell what ought to be shown instead?
5. Are there places where the pace drags? Are there places where the narrative rushes through moments that should be milked for additional dramatic effect?
Thank you so much for the suggestions. One of the things that I tend to forget while editing is not to get emotional with the story. If I approach it as a business rather than as "my" story, I can never apply all the wonderful things you suggested above.
Thanks for this wonderful discussion!
Editing is a process that happens naturally as I write the book. I watch for typos, inconsistent character traits, pacing, etc. from the start.
The more difficult editing/revising occurs after I finish the story. Here I research any questions that might have come up, like verification of a location. Then after I do a once over, I read it aloud to my family and get their input. I make any adjustments from their comments. Believe me, they've seen things that I didn't pick up before...Then I put the story aside for a couple of weeks or so because the brain has a funny way of skimming over areas if it's seen it too many times and then I am not focusing. When I reread it, it's as if I'm reading a new story, and then I do more revisions. Lastly, I send copies out to a few people to read and comment. I make revisions once more based on their comments. Then I put it aside for another 2 weeks. By now I don't want to ever see the manuscript again. But I do....
When I can't find anything else to change then I stop.
The worst editing that I found out is the last minute editing - when it's ready to be published and I don't have the luxury of time to check on my work, and sometimes new errors pop up because I make a revision (that's not really needed but because I'm nervous I do it) without being able to read the whole work again due to time constraints. Then the error shows up and I need to do more revisions. Ugh!
So the best advice I would give is to have your editing done before it goes into print, so that there is minimal editing done afterwards.
I am screaming "I know!" at your comment about last minute editing! I dread those errors and they tend to pop up at the worst possible time. Like you said, we need to be more thorough before it goes to print. But sometimes I feel editing is never enough! LOL!
Thank you for helping me out!