What is the one habit you have that makes the self-editing and revision process less painful? What MBT resources have helped you with the self-editing and revision process?
Dina Sleiman: I make a game of removing as many words as possible. Author Angela Hunt says to pay yourself a quarter for each word you can remove. I also use an electronic reader to both hear and see my writing. The deadpan voice helps me to notice issues I might not otherwise correct in my own mind. The most important element of self-editing is to do it in the proper order. Begin with big, sweeping plot structure issues. Then move to chapters and scenes. Don’t do any picky word choice or grammatical editing until the end. This method saves a lot of time. Lessons about self-editing are on my website under the “Writing Course” link.
Katherine Jones: In the midst of editing a project, whenever an idea hits — a snippet of dialogue, a setting detail, a subplot twist — I jot it down as fully as I can on whatever I have at hand: my notepad, a scrap of paper, a napkin. Then as soon as possible, I add it as a balloon comment to the section where I think it best fits. (This may change as the revision process continues.) Then, on my next sweep through that scene or section, I weave it in — or, as I said, find a better spot to include it. This helps me keep my thoughts organized instead of tumbling endlessly inside my head. Then, too, it’s always so much easier to edit a scene when I already have a head-start on where to begin.
Diana Lesire Brandmeyer: I like to bring out my “Margie Lawson markers” and mark everything in colors so I know what to fix. I love the pretty colors. They make me feel more like a kid and less like an editor.
Kimberly Fish: Regarding making the self-editing and revision process less painful: I read the pages I’ve written aloud. Sometime just hearing the words and dialogue makes it easily apparent what needs to be edited. The MBT resource that was most helpful to me was the full-out MBT proposal and synopsis analysis with Susan May Warren. She was insightful, imaginative and inspiring. She showed me what could be brought forward in the plot so my story was richer and more engaging. Worth every penny.
Carrie Pagels is coordinator of the Tidewater Christian Writers and moderator of Colonial American Christian Writers listserve. She is a member of ACFW, FCW, MBT, HisWriters, and Chesapeake Bay Writers.