Editing


A lot of writers complain about the editing process. Normally, I love it, but lately it has been exhausting. I don’t know why, but I’m blaming 2020. Today’s behind the scenes peek is about editing and what I see when an editor sends a book back to me.

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Which might help explain why I rarely read my own books. By the time they publish, I have reviewed them about 20 times. And while the accept/reject buttons make it go quickly, I still have to read the books while using them because most of the time, I need to know what is going on in a specific spot to know whether to accept or reject a change. Even when they are “standard” grammar or spelling errors.

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First round of edits.

My example is Dysfunctional Dreams. I have 2 screenshots from it to show you. The first is just the main screen of changes: You can see how many insertions/deletions the editor made as well as the number of comments they made. I always address the comments first, because they usually mean I need to work on something. Comments mean rewrites, explanations, clarifications, or an expansion on that section is necessary. Dysfunctional Dreams had 121 comments when the first editor sent it back to me. One of them actually led to an entire chapter being added to the book to better explain Edgar Randolph’s motivations. I’ll explain now what you are looking at: On the left is the review changes window. This gives me a list of all changes as well as totals. Total Dysfunctional Dreams had 3,164 revisions – 1,784 insertions, 1,259 deletions, 0 formatting changes, and 121 comments. If you are unfamiliar with the Track Changes function in Word, you’ll notice some of the text in the document is blue. These blue bits are changes the editor has made… Sometimes it’s the insertion of a comma or deletion of a comma and sometimes it’s entire sentences they have kindly reworded. And you can see the first comment hanging beyond the story text on the right as well as who made the comment. In this first comment she wants me to reword a large section, which I did. Once the first round of edits is finished and I’ve addressed all the comments and accepted or rejected changes, it goes to the second editor. There is a difference between these editors. The first round is more about the story; does it flow, does it make sense, did I lose my train of thought and forget what the hell I was talking about, did I drop a plot line, did I add a plot line that I didn’t resolve, did I include a beginning, middle, and end (for me a book having an ending is kind of a toss up, sometimes I do forget them). It is her job to make sure the book makes sense, she catches some errors, but it isn’t the primary function. The second editor is the main grammar and spelling error catcher. The graphic below shows the second round of edits. Total there are 3,939 revisions by the second editor. 2,117 insertions, 1,803 deletions, 2 moves, 3 formatting changes, and 14 comments. You’ll also notice that the editor’s changes have changed color. Because Word used Blue for the first round of edits, it decided to make the second editor’s comments red. At this point, my own edits (because I always have some) were showing up in purple, but there are none on this page. On the toolbar at the top, you will see two buttons; Accept Reject. I review every change an editor has made and either accept or reject the change using these two buttons. On average, I spend 4 days going through the first round of edits and 2 days on the second round of edits. Since there is less rewriting with the second round of edits it takes less time. I do this 20 times for each book; first round of edits, second round of edits, and with every beta reader. And strangely, sometimes the first editor will have me remove stuff the second editor wants put back in.

Second round of edits.

Now, you’ll have a better understanding of what I mean when I say I need to go through edits. These are the screens I am looking at and what I am doing. I look at each of those blue and red text spots to ensure the editor understood what I meant and sometimes my own changes are because an editor made a change based on their understanding of the text which turned out to be different than my own. Between both editors, there were a total of 7,103 changes made to Dysfunctional Dreams and as I said one included the addition of an entire chapter. Furthermore, the word count changes with each edit is noticeable, my books always get longer after editing. Completed before edits; Dysfunctional Dreams was 85,980, however, when it published it was 88,095 words total.

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