The Gritty Part of Editing

I’ve reached the halfway point of editing draft #6 of my urban fantasy. My critique group’s been immensely helpful, as of others. Fellow blogger, Jacqui Murray for instance, recently wrote about getting rid of lazy words like ‘there’ and ‘was’ in her manuscript, which reminded me to tackle this as well.

Using the ‘Find’ icon in Word, I was stunned to discover that was appeared 383 times in 165 pages. From page one, I looked for ways to replace the word or rejig a passive sentence into something stronger. In doing so, I inadvertently cut more words from the manuscript. A huge bonus!

Ridding your manuscript of lazy words is a tedious and time-consuming exercise. It’s the gritty part of editing, but it’s also necessary and in many ways quite satisfying. Draft #6 has been about continuity, cutting, and fleshing out characters’ motives. So far, the process has made the manuscript twenty pages shorter, and I’m hoping to cut much more by the time it’s ready for beta readers and my editor.

Not every writer loves editing but I enjoy it, even though it seems to take forever. I often compare it to a block of marble, slowly chipping away the unnecessary bits to create something meaningful, where everything is exactly where it should be and the work is always worth the effort.

While editing, I usually have either a coffee, glass of water, or tea by my side. In talking with other authors over the years, having a beverage close at hand is practically a must. For me, stopping to sip something not only lets me think about those words on the page, but gives my eyes a quick break from the computer screen.

My family knows I’m a tea lover, so I received the perfect Christmas gift this year. Packets of tea in the shape of books. How cool is that? Part of me doesn’t want to open it and spoil the look, but hey, I still have a lot of editing ahead.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

11 thoughts on “The Gritty Part of Editing”

  1. Gah, the editing process really isn’t for me, though in hindsight, even the writing process doesn’t feel as fun to me. Yet I still do it, I have no idea why. That tea packaging looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Sounds like you are doing a good job! My critique group recently dismissed me due to me not critiquing their work well enough. Balancing work, homesvhool and my blogs this year and short stories I’ve submitted to places, I’ve had no time for my novel. Finding time to fully critique their 5000 to 10 000 words isn’t there, especially when they are much more experienced writers or I don’t understand what they are writing. So another knock back,. Tonight I’m once again too tired to turn on my lap top. Work followed by prime numbers.
    Good tips on editing, some day I hope to get back to mine, it needs a complete rewrite.
    I love tea too and that looks like a great box of tea! Hope your editing continues to go well!

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    1. Thank you, and yes, I understand about juggling different things. There were many times when I was raising my kids and working that I produced very little writing, but once they were older and I found that I still really wanted to write books, I got back to it. Give yourself time, and it’ll happen.

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  3. I have the same experience of shortening the book when I fix lazy words. It’s as though I know I was lazy and take an extra sentence to explain the idea a different way. Once I fix the lazy words, no need for the second.

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  4. I enjoy editing more than I did at first. Perhaps it’s like cleaning the house, it’s so much better after it’s done. I love the tea packages that look like books. Perfect!

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