Saturday, March 10, 2012

Collaborative Editing

This is Julie here. A huge part of writing is rewriting. You might think that if two people write the book together, they'd catch all the problems and there would be nothing to edit!

Maggie: Oh how I wish that were true.

There are some great advantages when editing a co-written work, but some disadvantages too. For instance, if someone wants to change something--ANYTHING--Maggie and I have to agree. That can be good (I love editing and could make changes forever, even when they're not needed or helpful). But sometimes it's hard to come to an agreement. And feelings can get hurt sometimes. One bit of advice I heard is to keep in mind it’s about the story, and whatever makes the story stronger. I try to remember that.

Anyway, here’s kind of how our editing process goes:

Stage 1. Editing while writing. Some people say you should never edit while you’re writing a book, but let the ideas flow and then edit later. With a co-author, unless you love everything they type (and I don't even love everything I type!), it’s almost impossible not to at least make little changes. Macro changes, such as plot threads that go awry, really need to be dealt with before you move on to the rest of the book. Otherwise it's a domino effect and you could end up throwing out entire chapters later on.

Stage 2. Wait a couple weeks, if possible. Then re-read the draft with the co-author, making adjustments as needed. (For The Healer and the Pirate we made some fairly substantial revisions this way. We're hoping the sequel goes more smoothly.)

A great thing here is to get a list of your overused words and kill them when possible. The find function works wonders.

Maggie: Just make sure your replacement words do not become your new overused words. Or else, you’ll be doing this process a second time. *sheepish grin*

Stage 3. Once it’s polished enough, send to a critique group or beta reader. At the very least, even a co-written work needs a second set of eyes. Or third, or fourth. I don't care how many authors wrote it; you're all too close to see plot issues. You know your characters and storyline too well to know where it's confusing. So at the least, find SOMEONE.

Maggie: Someone that isn’t related to you or you’ve known since preschool.

Stage 4. Once it's through the critique and/or beta reader process, go through again and incorporate suggestions as you see fit.

Stage 5. Wait a couple weeks before another look through. You can hire an editor, grab another beta reader, or just load the book onto your Kindle (or print a copy, or change the font) and look through one more time.

Again, if you’re like me, you could edit forever, so it’s good to have a voice telling you to just stop already.

Maggie: Easy there, Julie, put the book down and step away...

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