Start Writing Fiction: Editing And Revision
Now you know what fiction is and how to get into the habit of writing, we will now look at the agony of the all-important editing process and revision. There are two things you need to remember when dealing with the editing and revision process. That is you will need to do it more than once and not go at it alone.
Your first draft will, and should be, messy. Your first draft is a way to get your story out of your head and onto paper, or the computer screen. Your first draft will have punctuation issues and misspellings, and that is all right.
Reading over your story, rewriting, and editing is essential. One thing you need to remember, it is a never-ending process, or it feels like it is. Ideas will pop into your head that will cause you to change your character, scene, or event. And you know what? That is okay, let it happen.
Before you review your story yourself, take time away. Save it on a hard drive, thumb drive or hide it in your desk. Take a mini-vacation from the story. You can work on another story, catch up on your reading, and spend time with your family.
Once you have taken your time away, take your story from its hiding place and read. While reading your story, take notes. The notes will help you when you rewrite your story, and yes you will revise your story.
When reviewing ask your self
- Does my word usage seem surprising, understandable, and fitting?
- Can my readers visualize the characters?
- Are my descriptions predictable, dull, dense, overused, understandable, and slow paced?
- Do I have stagnation?
- Are my characters relatable?
- Does the character, scene, or event move the story along?
Now, do your rewrite. When you finished the rewrite, you will repeat what you did with your first draft. Take another mini-vacation or catch up on things. When you are ready, dig your rewrite out and read it over. Asking the same questions as before. Write, Read, Revise, Repeat.
Many writers outsource the editing process to professional editors. But, some writers edit themselves. Either way, it is up to you on which path you want to take. You may do everything yourself due to financial problems, and that is okay.
When you edit, you can read your story out loud and read your story backwards. Both ways will help you slow down your reading, and you are likely to catch any errors.
You may go through the rewriting process many times. Once you’re satisfied, you need to read your story once again, and you need to look at specific issues. You must correct all the mistakes. You will look at
- Overused words
- Clichés and Redundancies
- Sticky sentences
- Reptition of words
- Variation in sentences
- To many pronouns
- Transition words
- Too many adverbs
- Use of Voice
Free editing software: Grammarly, ProWritingAid, Hemingway Editor, editMinion, Ginger, and Slick Write.
Once you finish with reading and rewriting, look for Beta readers. What is a Beta reader? That is a good question. A Beta reader reads your story and provides feedback. If you have been to school and had to do peer reviews, then you have a good grasp of what a Beta reader does.
Why have Beta readers? That is another good question. We as writers have problems reading our stories objectively. Plus, our eyes, fingers, and brain are tired and having fresh eyes on the story can help us see issues we have missed.
Where can we find Beta readers? Another good question. If you are in any writing groups on Facebook, you will see many people offering to read your story, reach out to them. You can reach out to your family and friends to read the story. If you are in school, you can reach out to your classmates or teachers.
Don’t take the feedback from your Beta readers personally. They are there to help improve your story. They are an extra pair of eyes when your eyes are too tired. You can use their feedback or not; it is up to you.
Look at your notebook or the newspaper for sparks of creativity. Write the first paragraph or two of a flash fiction (200-350 words) story and post it in the comments below.
When providing feedback:
- Make a positive comment and a critical comment about each story.
- Give reasons for your feedback, don’t say ‘I liked this’ or ‘I didn’t like that.’
- I recommend you write at least 150 words when reviewing, but you can write more.
- What was the most engaging part of the story, and why?
- How compelling was the author’s narrative arc in establishing and furthering tension?
- What two major suggestions would you give to the author as he or she moves toward revision?