Talk Back: Do you edit your manuscript as you go?

On my Kindle: “Super Secret Contemporary Romance” by Candi Wall and “Super Secret Pirate Romance” by Jenn Bray Weber – I’m Beta reading!!!

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!


You tell me: should I edit as I go, or will I write the whole dirty first draft, then edit?

You see since I finished my last manuscript, I have now started a brand new one. Well not so brand new since it’s the sequel to the previous one. Anyhow, as I was finishing that last manuscript, I got back into editing mode which I usually hate and towards the end, I was almost liking it.

Hence my dilemma, if I just go straight back to writing, I won’t be editing for a good 3 months. I will hate it again. And there is a nice feeling to get to THE END with a nice complete novel instead of going up and down in happiness with each draft (I’m done!!!! – but I am really done??)

But when I write the whole first draft without editing, the story grows on me and when I go back to edit the first chapter, I have a better sense of my story and characters – great way to put those unfired guns when you know there will be a gunshots at the end.

So I don’t know. I am 10,000 words into this story and I’m still going back and forth with this. I’ve tried to edit a bit, but my heart is not into it.

So what do you do? Are you consistent in your method or does it change with each project?

And by the way, if you need a little help with plotting, NYTimes bestselling author Bob Mayer was kind enough a couple of weeks ago to share his whole method on how he sets up conflict in his plots. Check it out – you’ll learn a lot!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle

22 Responses to Talk Back: Do you edit your manuscript as you go?

  1. Marcia says:

    Editing! I’m editing even as I write. Seems every time I read another blog on how to make your story more interesting (and thanks for this site because I’ve spent a lot of time here) I come up with another level of drama, some little ‘thing’ I can add to enhance the story…… sometimes I feel I should just let go. On the one hand I want my story the best it can be on the other at times I feel I should just move on…… anyone else feel this way?

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  2. ItΒ΄s hard to let go Marcia, isn’t it? I so far have only edited after the draft is done but I do multiple pass and never know when to call it quit. I hear you, it’s hard!

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  3. jbrayweber says:

    I edit as I go. Its very hard for me to just write and not edit. I get this feeling of being jumbled up, lost, wayward. That is in part because I am a pantser. I write a chapter and before I move on, edit it. This also helps me remember all the details that will appear or have some sort of value later in the story. It generally only takes me one day to edit my own chapter. Once I’ve written The End, I go back and do another round of edits. It’s a cleaner version than the first draft and I don’t take nearly as long to finish with edits.

    Good luck on your edits, MC!

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  4. One day per chapter, Jenn! You’re quick – I envy you πŸ™‚ I think I need about about 3 hrs for a chapter. I only write mornings before work so that takes forever πŸ™‚

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  5. maw25 says:

    What is this editing thing you are talking about? Seriously, I envy anyone that can edit as they go. I can’t do that right now. When I write, I just write and let the words flow.

    After I’ve written 1k in words, I’ll dump it into Edit Minion to find out where my mistakes are and move on.

    Harlie

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  6. Harlie, I’m so curious now – I need to know what is the Edit Minion you are talking about! Sounds helpful!
    Glad to hear someone else likes to write it all at once!

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  7. I usually spend time formulating my next scene, then sit down and write the bones. I take another pass at it once the bones are down because I have a better understanding of where I need the scene to go, so the second pass usually changes everything and guides the scene into position for a final pass. When I hit the third and final pass, I tighten the scene and correct the flow of it. When I am done with that pass, I give it over to my hubs who catches any typos or errors and then I am done with that scene completely. I put it into a master file to await a final read through at the end of the book.

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  8. JoAnn – thanks for sharing this very practical advice. I envy that at the end of going though all your scene you are practically done. You make me want to try this.

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  9. Mae Clair says:

    Hi! I’m fairly new to the blog ,but this topic attracted me as I’m always curious how others work. I can’t turn off my inner editor (despite a few attempts) so I’m definitely an edit-as-I-go writer. The upside is that when the manuscript is finished it, only needs minor polishing (I generally do 1-2 more quick edits before submitting). The downside is it probably takes me longer to finish an ms than most!

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  10. Mae – welcome to Musetracks πŸ™‚
    Isn’t it great to learn from each other.
    I think it must be so nice to be done done after that once pass instead of going back and forth like I do.

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  11. I definitely edit as I go…to a degree. I used to obsess over it until I was paralyzed. I couldn’t go on because there was soooooo much to fix. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve improved with time and practice, but now I’m able to limit myself to going over the previous writings to the last 3 pages.
    This way, I’m able to get back into the story and feel like I’m cleaning house at the same time! The important thing is to not get stuck with that darn internal editor that whispers your writing is no good!!

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  12. Stacey I hear to about that darn inner editor. I think the only way I can shut mine up is to forget there is such a thing as editing – I wish I could though…..

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  13. I try my best not to edit as I go. Sometimes, though, the impulse to edit occurs as I review before starting the next scene. I prefer to edit after the ms has sat a week or two (if I have time). The whole thing is new and I can see clearly where work is needed. I took this approach form a comment Sharon Sala shared on editing. She writes a dirty draft and then goes back and edits. I like this – seems to work better for me. By the way, I love this blog!

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  14. Hi Catherine – so glad you like our blog! I also always try to let the manuscript sit but somehow there is never time! πŸ™‚

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  15. I try not to. Before I had an inner editor, it didn’t matter, but now I find that if I try to edit as I go, everything gets held up. Tweeted.

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  16. Thank you for the Tweet! I noticed πŸ™‚
    Yes that darn inner editor- I’m so there with you. I miss the days when I was innocent.

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  17. I will always finish the novel first and then go back. I’m no good at editing my own work, but going back through does offer me the chance to fix and add important elements that I may have missed the first time around.

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  18. Hi Tracy – thanks for sharing how you work. It’s hard to go back to our own work isn’t it? Somehow for me after a while I don’t see any mistakes anymore. It helps me to take a break.

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  19. So very true. I need an editor for everything, My mind is always focused on the writing and when i try to edit, I don’t see the typo errors that are staring back at me. πŸ˜€

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  20. I’ve worked out my own plotting method but still I tend to edit as I go, at least the major edits. I generally know where I’m going and what has to happen in sequence but I still love having those tiny details in the beginning end up being critical to the plot and or resolution! I have to write in sequence because the last three manuscripts I wrote out of it and the revisions are killing me! I have noticed that if I rest the mss a month or so I will catch many more typos, grammar errors, etc. but the major edits still happen as I go.

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  21. OMG – P.I. writing out of sequence! I did that with the first part of my first manuscript and it took FOREVER to put back together! Scary lol
    I do know people who can do that – no problem! Funny how different everyone’s approach is yet it all works πŸ™‚

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  22. It almost killed me as a writer! I can barely go back and look at those stories, even though one is finished and it’s sequel is begun, and one is halfway done but turned into a vampire saga. That’s the one that kicked off my out of sequence stuff. It’s so difficult for me to write out of sequence and it’s nice to know I’m not alone out here!

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