Editing: Die, lousy words, die!


Call it a reminder, a warning, or inspiration: Every first draft needs editing. Here’s what happens to my first drafts when I print them out.

In the pages shown above, I changed the setting, the menu, the dialogue, and the characters’ attitudes. I also cut the scene by almost a third. The characters were enjoying their dinner far too much, and blabbing pointlessly. The scene is now much more tightly focused. It still ends in disaster, but gets to the action much quicker.

And yes, I have put up a small, slightly blurry image of the edited pages, because I want to tantalize you and I don’t want to give away anything yet.

But I will tell you that the title of the novel is Phantom Instinct.

5 responses to “Editing: Die, lousy words, die!

  1. I see you’re still using the ‘print and (red) pencil’ method. As I wrote in my blog post ‘Self-Editing Fiction’ (http://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/self-editing-fiction/):
    “Then the rough draft goes into the e-reader that I can take everywhere without fear that my papers blow everywhere or that my highlighter/pen will run out of ink. As long as I don’t forget to charge the battery regularly. Reading your manuscript like a reader will reveal mistakes that you had never taken into account, like the number of times the name of your protagonist is featured on the page [too many or too little], how the dialogue is confusing without speech tags, how the small paragraph of information you squeezed in turns out to be two pages of exposition, etcetera. Many e-readers also have ‘text-to-speech’ features that allow for a bored robot to read back your awkward prose to you.

    And when you’ve finished Marking & Notating your entire manuscript, you sit back down behind the keyboard, View the list of Notes & Marks, and make the changes.”

    Although I understand the satisfaction of scratching your pencil through a whole paragraph and jotting notes in the margin, my editing method seems more efficient to me and saves a lot of paper in the process.

    Good luck with Phantom Instinct.

    Martyn V. Halm, author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

    • Sometimes, as in the photo above, I print out sections of a draft and edit with a pen. Other times, I edit directly on the computer. And this year I have flown more than 100,000 miles. That has meant around 1,000 minutes where my electronic devices must be powered down. A pen and paper have allowed me to be productive while waiting for planes to take off and land.

      Whatever works for you.

  2. Sorry, I should have explained more thoroughly. The 1,000 minutes were during taxi, takeoff, and landing, and while flights were below 10,000 feet. That added up to about 20 minutes per flight when my electronic devices had to be powered down. I flew at least 50 flights this year… And while I was on the ground or above the clouds, I took advantage of the time to write and edit on my computer or iPad.

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