Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giveaway Day 6: A critique from editor Rachelle Rea

Update: Our winner is Naomi Downing! Congratulations!

Stephanie here! I'm super excited that we have Rachelle Rea with us today to share 5 Tips for A Successful Self-Edit. 

It's a little surreal to me that my little Rachelle is a qualified guest poster these days. *Sniff, sniff.* Rachelle has been around Go Teen Writers basically since it began, and it's been such a joy to watch her grow and mature. Not only is her writing beautiful - her debut novel releases next summer with WhiteFire Publishing - but she's building a reputation as an amazing editor too. I've heard both Roseanna M. White and Lisa T. Bergren sing her praises. 

We're so touched that today Rachelle is giving away a 25 page critique to one lucky writer! You'll be in excellent hands.

SwitchedRachelle Rea writes novels by night. By day, she coaches others in the craft as a freelance editor. As a homeschool and college grad, her favorite subject was always history. So, until time travel is possible or a Tardis lands in her front yard, she writes about times gone by. She wrote her debut novel and first historical in one summer between sophomore and junior year of college. That novel will be released by WhiteFire Publishing next summer.
 Hi, I'm Rachelle, and I edit for other people. 
I correct typos and punctuation, check to make sure tense and point of view remain consistent, and suggest changes that ensure clarity. I enjoy my job. I also edit my own novels. Do you expect me to say I don't enjoy that job? Well, I do. 
But it's a lot harder to edit my own writing than it is to take the words of other people and push and pull until they're perfectly in place. Why is that? Why do my own words look pristine on the page until someone else finds a typo or points out that the scene I deleted is referenced in Chapter Three? 
Because I think I know what I'm talking about. 
When I sit down with my own document and make it a goal to power through a set number of pages before I fall into bed, I go in knowing what to expect. I have an image in my mind of what the heroine and her hero look like. I hear what they sound like. I may miss the reference to the deleted scene because I remember that deleted scene (and may forget that it's, um, deleted). It's part of the story in my mind. 
So my pre-first step for you when you sit down to edit your own words is don't. Wait. Stephanie's a fan of six weeks. I've gone as long as a year (I was writing the sequel, okay? Sheesh). When you write The End, revel in it. Throw a party. Give yourself some distance before you start self-editing.
*whistles* 
Six weeks is over? Okay, then. Let's get started.



1. Read Your Novel.

A lot of authors recommend this: that you read your entire novel for a big-picture look at how you want to macro-edit before you tackle the micro-edit. Simply, scenes before sentences. This didn't work for me until I discovered you can email documents to your Kindle. Hallelujah. So read your whole novel and...

2. Make a List of Big Changes.

When I edit my own novel or someone else's, I keep a notepad handy. Or sticky notes. Anything. Later, I compile all my story notes into a document named just that and I look at the list as a whole. What do my notes deal with? Shades of suspicion. Wherever I doubt a character's motives (or where there seems to be little motive at all), wherever I'm confused about the timeline (and, alas, this happens often in my historicals), wherever I question whether a scene is really needed or can be summarized. I note all of it, make a list, and study that list until I decide how I'm going to go about removing every shade of suspicion. Next up...

3. Make a List of Small Changes.

This is often regressive for me. For instance, my novel's heroine is near-sighted and wears glasses (did I just hear some of you cheering?). In an early draft, she lost her glasses yet conveniently possessed a second pair. On her person. In the middle of a voyage across the English Channel. Yeah. This didn't make it onto my List of Big Changes, but it did seem contrived to an early reader. So I made it more realistic: she just lost them. Doing that, though, enabled me to make her more vulnerable later. Win. Don't be afraid to make small changes and see how that shifts your character's development or the plotline of the whole novel.

4. Editing is No Longer Optional.

This stage is not the final polish, but treat it like it is. Treat this like your mother, grandmother, or an agent you aspire to work with one day is going to read this draft. A note to speed-readers: refrain. Instead of glancing at the sentence, comprehending, and moving on, sound out the words in your head as you read. Slow going? Absolutely. Worth it? Every time.

5. Polish Until It Shines

This looks different for different writers. Some ideas:
  • Hand out copies to your friends.
  • Let your critique group read chapters.
  • Email your writing partner.
  • Ask a trusted mentor to tell you what she thinks.
  • Hire an editor.
Then? Implement their suggestions. Sift through what they say for what feels right to you, the author, but remember they have that distance you will never have with this story and they may make suggestions you don't want to make but perhaps need to. Finally, make sure you read that manuscript over again, catching the reference to the Long Since Deleted Scene in Chapter Three. ;)​

Lots of writers have a favorite part of writing the first draft. Do you have a favorite part of the editing process?




a Rafflecopter giveaway

133 comments:

  1. Wow! This is really exciting. Thanks a lot!

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    1. And...well...I've never really *finished* a first draft. So I can't say. Maybe one day...sometime soon, I hope. :) I'm definitely sticking this novel through. Thanks again!

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    2. You can do it, Jonathan! Finishing the novel the first time around is the hardest. Once that's done, it does get easier!

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  2. Great advice! I love seeing the final draft of my novel, reading through it one last time, and knowing after that that it's perfect. (or as perfect as it can be :) )

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    1. As perfect as it can be is an excellent way to put it, Linea!

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  3. My favorite part, would probably have to be seeing how everything came together without me really knowing it. When you have 125 pages (my current page count) you tend to forget about that tiny ordeal in chapter four that makes chapter five all the more interesting. It's just nice to see how everything connects.

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    1. Great point, Hannah! Agreed--sometimes that sentence you write not knowing how it connects ends up being a main threat at some point (usually the climax). :)

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  4. I love the dealing that this is finally making sense - usually my first draft is full of plot holes. editing can be the way to add color.

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    1. You have permission to write uncolorful first drafts. You do. :)

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  5. I actually have never edited a novel before, but I expect my favourite part will be the macro-edits. Kind of like reassessing a jigsaw and making sure all the pieces fit nicely and are oriented the right way.

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  6. Thank you! This is lovely advice! :) I can't wait to do this when I'm done with my first draft of my book. Thank you again!

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  7. This is really cool! Thanks for the giveaway!:)

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  8. A very exciting price, thank you for pulling out for us newbie writers Rachelle. It's always fun to have you around in the group ^.^

    As for editing, I really enjoy those moments where I'm filling in the big blanks. I usually have a few in my first draft, where I kind of skip over a moment because I can't wrap my mind around it, and then in the second draft it suddenly makes sense, bingo!

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    1. I love those moments, Arlette. Where I think, ah, that's what I meant to say. :)

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  9. My favorite part of the editing process is rediscovering all the scenes I had such fun writing.
    Thanks for the tips, Rachel!

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  10. Since I'm doing the 100-4-100 challenge, I needed to keep writing even after I finished my NaNo novel. What I did is rewrite the novel I finished on Oct. 31. I was only away from it for 4 weeks, but it worked for me!

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    1. My favorite part of the editing process is to go through and make my novel shine. So pretty much the polishing part. It's one of the most exciting parts because your almost done and yet you still have a few pieces left to fix. :):)

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    2. I think you might make a good editor then, Melody, because that's what got *me* started. :)

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  12. Is there a way to contact her? Soon I'm going to need my own editor and I just want to talk to editors and stuff and get tips on how to get an editor and whatnot.

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    1. Here is a link to Rachelle's website, Lisa: http://rachellerea.com/editing-services/

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    2. Hi Lisa! And here's my public email: rachelle@rachellerea.com :)

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    1. Thanks for having me, Jill and Stephanie!

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  14. My favorite part of the editing process is probably once I make it to the point where I suddenly know what I'm doing. Starting out, it's overwhelming and I have no clue where to start, but when I get into it enough that I can start working for the day and actually know what I'm doing? That feels wonderful. :) So it's not a set point, exactly, but it is my favorite. Haha.

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  15. Only recently have I actually sat down and edited something (I've had to for school in the past, but that was rushed and mandatory). I think I like the thrill of reading over what I wrote and finding ways to make it better and make it flow and weave together better. It's interesting how I can write new ideas and bring together the plot and the story itself even though I keep the main idea.

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    1. That's one of the best parts about writing to me, Jaime. We can write...and then we can rewrite and rewrite. We get to tackle the creative process all over again just in a different way!

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  16. If I entered and won, would there be a way to save the critique until I had 25 pages that could be critiqued? I would love a chance to win this, but I only have written a few pages of my first draft.

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  17. The six weeks are wonderful. I'm in the middle of them now. Only, my six weeks are in the middle of my roughish/worked on for five years draft. I needed time to distance myself, so I could see where it needed to go.

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    1. It's hard to step away from an MS for that long--good for you, Michaella!

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  18. I love the moment of breakthrough after I've beaten my head over and over again on a certain passage. The "aha!" moment and everything falling into place is so much sweeter because of the work spent. Until I get to the next snag in my MS. . . .

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    1. I was reading along, Samantha, and nodding. And then I winced. :) So true.

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  19. Wonderful post, thank you . . . And thank you for this opportunity! Congratulations to Rachelle for her debut novel!! :D That is so exciting! I really enjoyed this post, and am excited about the giveaway. :)

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    1. Mrs. Morrill, quick question - I entered the giveaway, but as I was thinking about it just now, wondered if I'm eligible since I'm 20?

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    2. Thank you, Patience! I appreciate that! And I don't think there's an age limit...Hmm, right, Stephanie?

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  20. My favorite part of the editing process is definitely making a list of big changes. I love to read through my novel too, but I always have to cringe as I see all that needs work. :) But making that list of big changes gets me so excited about editing!

    I really enjoyed your post, Rachelle, and congratulations on your debut novel!

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  21. My favorite part of editing is adding new characters to my story : )

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    1. This is one I haven't actually done yet, Alyson (at least on my own novels), but I need to in my very next manuscript!

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  22. Kindles were the best invention ever invented for editing. Amazon thought they were making them for readers, but no, they're for editing. I not only use mine for the initial read through, but also for making all of my notes. It's an amazing little device.

    And I laughed over your glasses issue. I had something similar happen in one of my other books. I gave the MC glasses, and then completely forgot about them. They didn't come up once in the rest of the book - even though she went swimming a few times!

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    1. OH, that's funny--but common, Kendra. ;)

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  23. Wow, thank you, Rachelle! Your tips were extremely helpful.
    Right now, I am in the midst of editing my first novel, and I can't say that I am enjoying editing. The only part I do enjoy, it going back over the emotional scenes and making them even better or adding in several big changes to the plot.

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  24. Thank your for this helpful post! :)

    -Sarah Zakowski

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  26. This is such an awesome giveaway! Thanks, Rachelle :)

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  27. Congratulations on your book, Rachelle! That's so exciting!

    I'm in the second draft of my contemporary, and half the time I love editing, and the other half I hate it. So I guess the first draft might be my favorite, although I did enjoy the tiny bit of line editing I've done.

    Just wondering, if I were to win, would I need the 25 pages ready immediately?

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    1. Thank you, Emily! Nope, not immediately. Prize doesn't expire. :)

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  28. Thanks for the tips! Unfortunately I have never finished a novel to go through the editing process but hopefully that will change very soon. This is such an amazing giveaway thank you!

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  29. My favorite part of the editing process is finishing an edit. There's nothing like getting all the way through your manuscript and knowing you're that much closer to being done with the editing for good. :D

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    1. Great point, Jennifer! Although, then, you have your publisher send edits... :)

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  30. My favourite part of editing is finishing one round of editing and preparing to move on to the next round! Its so cool to just see how the manuscript changes and develops throughout the different stages of editing.

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    1. Like a baby, really, growing and maturing. :)

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  31. This is great advice for editing and I know it will be a huge help when I'm finally brave enough to start tackling the editing process of my book. I have one question about the giveaway, though. Since my novel is still a very raw rough draft, is it okay if my 25 pages is a compilation of short stories? Also, does it have to be 25 pages, or can it be a little bit less if I can't quite bring my short stories up to that amount? I could probably write something new, but if there is a deadline that might not work out.

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    1. I've never actually edited a full book before but I think that my favorite part of editing will be when after many drafts my manuscript finally starts to seem like a real book with a cohesive plot and multidimensional characters.

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    2. The prize doesn't expire, Ana. I've had a giveaway winner wait as much as a year, and as long as you don't expect me to drop everything and edit your pages right away, we're good. ;) And I love working on short stories!

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  32. My favorite part of editing is watching the story get cleaned up as it goes through the different stages of editing. I love seeing my characters and writing style develop!

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  33. My favorite part of the editing process is writing in new major scenes. It's just as exciting as writing the very first draft, but you're still progressing! :D

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    1. This is something I get to suggest more than do, and I actually am intimidated by it sometimes with my own novels, so that's great!

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  34. I loved sharing my first book with my friends and family, beacause then I get to see what they think of it. But I also like reading my own work, because I love reading!

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  35. Thanks so much for this post! These tips will definitely come in handy later :-)

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    1. I don't have a favorite part of the editing process, because, well, I haven't fully gotten through editing on anything, really...but they'd probably be the macroedits. I like changing giant things and seeing how the plot twists affect my characters :-)

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  36. So far, I don't exactly have a favorite part of the editing process, since I'm still developing my own process. But I like the stage of re-arranging scenes for a better story flow. That part makes me happy, even though it's sometimes a pain. This post had excellent advice, so I'm quite excited that you guest posted today, Rachelle (win for having the same name! ;) ) I like your point about "Shades of suspicion." And the idea of reading through your manuscript at a painfully slow pace. I'm not great at this yet, but your post has inspired me to do better! Thanks, Rachelle!

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    1. So glad it inspired you, Rachelle!

      We don't meet many Rachelles, do we? ;)

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  37. My favorite part of the editing process is seeing where I can make my characters more consistent and reading through my dialogue to make it better, more real, and more captivating.

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    1. Dialogue can be so tricky! Great point.

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  38. I don't know what my favorite part of editing is... finishing? Haha, I just finished my WIP last Saturday, though, so in a few weeks, since I have to edit anyway, I should figure out what part of editing is my favorite. :) Thanks for stopping by and doing the give away, Rachelle. :)

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    1. Let me know what you decide is your favorite part, Naomi!

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  39. I don't really know what my favorite part of editing really is... all I've really done is read part of my novel. And the entire time I'm doing that, I am thinking, "For reals, who would EVER want to read this or even think about reading it...."
    I guess that means I have a lot of editing to do *cough cough* ;)
    Thanks for stopping by, Rachelle! I loved the post! :D

    TW Wright
    ravensandwriting.blogspot.com

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    1. Respect your dream, TW, and the editing will prove worth it!

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  40. GAH I ONLY HAVE 22 PAGES.
    *quickly writes three more*

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    1. No problem, Krissy. ;) I'd just wait until you had enough.

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  41. I found you on some social media sights, but whenever I tried to load your website, it wouldn't work. (Well, the first time it worked for a few minutes, but then it stopped.) I don't know if you are just working on it, and maybe it's just my computer, but I thought you might want to know, just in case. :)

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    1. *facepalm* *Sites, not sights.

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    2. I updated yesterday (poor timing, I know). :) Thanks for letting me know!

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  42. This sounds amazing. Since the giveaway doesn't expire, I'll go ahead and enter, even though I'm only about 3/4ths of the way through my first draft right now.

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  43. Favorite part of the editing process... Probably the macro edits, because I always end up adding scenes, and then I get a little taste of the fun of first draft writing again. While I know they're necessary, micro edits are a bit of a drag for me.


    Alexa S. Winters
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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    1. That's the part (adding scenes) that intimidates me, Alexa. Good for you!

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  44. Regarding the editing process, my favorite part is probably *planning* to edit in that I enjoy brainstorming what I can change, I just don't actually like tearing my book apart. Thankfully after changing stuff though, I'm always happy that I did!

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    1. You can always create a second document, Brooke, so that first, master document remains the original. If that's less scary for you. :)

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  45. Rachelle, thank you so much for offering this critique! Also, congrats on publishing your debut novel! I follow Roseanna White's blog, and her recent post with the synopsis and cover material for your series intrigued me. Can't wait until the release!

    Best,
    Sophia Zervas

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    1. Thank you so much, Sophia! Yep, Roseanna pretty much rocks!

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  46. Since I'm currently in the editing process this post was splendid. ^_^ My favourite parts are:

    • seeing how I subconsciously worked in the details that make a character more alive -- and that I don't even notice until a beta-reader points them out to me.
    • Getting to add extra colour and play with words to describe a scene better.
    • And, of course, line edits are (generally) rather fun.

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  47. I'm a speed reader so I end up using Natural Reader a lot instead of reading it to myself. It's amazing how many things my eyes skips over that I hear when it's being read out!

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    1. What a neat idea, Anna! Having it read aloud to you--I may have to try that!

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  48. My favorite part of the editing process? Haven't gotten to start edits on my first draft yet, but I'm really looking forward to filling out the story world more. After spending about four months away from the story, I've been getting all kinds of ideas! :)

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    1. And that is why breaks between drafts are encouraged: creative juices start flowing again. :)

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  49. My favorite part of editing is seeing the look on my sister's face when she reads what is and what used to be side by side and is shocked at the improvement. I guess it makes me feel like I'm doing something right. :)

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  50. Love this post! I had never thought about the fact that me being an expert on my own novel is what is keeping me from editing my own work as well as I edit other people's. Thanks very much for the post and the giveaway!

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  51. Awesome post, Rachelle!! And can I just say, that I was SO excited for you about your debut novel? :) Editing is probably the part I avoid most. The brainstorming and writing of the first draft are by far my favorites. It's in the editing part that my insecurities come out and the story's demons start lurking around the page... But, with that being said, I'm in the process of writing my third novel and am embracing the whole, write first draft and edit it later mentality and am actually starting to see the beauty in the process.

    Side note... I've had the privilege of having Rachelle edit a few of my chapters. She really is stupendous, folks! ;-)

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  52. I hate editing. I have trouble telling if a scene needs to go until a beta tells me. (This happened about a month before I want to submit the manuscript at a writer's conference, then I panic.)
    All the stuff I've gotten that's polished enough for betas is full second draft. I've never had a first draft that was good enough to save anything.

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    1. And that's okay, Jessi. That shows you're dedicated enough to polish until it shines.

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  53. I haven't edited much of my writing (I plan to begin in the new year) but i think my favorite part is adding scenes, if that's considered editing. I write short, so...yep. It's been for for me so far. :) I'd LOVE to win a critique!

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    1. A few of ya'll have said the same: that you love adding in scenes. I need to learn that love!

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  54. Editing for me is hard, cause I write from so deep in my soul that it hurts to change it. But I am working on being more open minded!

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    1. Something that helps me sometimes, Hannah, is saving the original in a master doc so I know I always have the original and I can edit however I want. :)

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  55. I don't have a favorite part of the editing process. It's all tedious to me.

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    1. But worth it in the end, right, Maddie? :)

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  56. Eye opener ... thanks! I've never edited a novel before, but I'm tackling that right now. It's more fun than I thought it would be. Hard, but fun. I guess it's knowing that what I wrote had problems and was really bad, and now I'm making it better. And soon, hopefully, it will be good. I think my favorite part is when I get a critique back. Cause then I see it's not as bad as I thought and I get honest criticism and it's wonderful. One step further, right?

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  57. I've never edited a novel before, but I do tend to edit as I go so I'll say that my favorite part is when I discover something new that just makes the whole story better and I add it in.

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    1. That's generally how I write, as well. Makes macro and micro editing less intimidating in the long run for me. :)

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  58. My favorite part is filling in the gaps to make a better, more engaging story. It's really satisfying to see it take shape.

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  59. My favorite part is adding scenes and new bits that make the story awesomer. It's so fun to get to shape and improve and see it getting better and get to revisit the story like that. :)

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    1. Revisiting the story is so fun, Deborah! You get to enjoy it all over again!

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  60. I actually like rewriting. I feel like the first draft is just blegh, but when I rewrite I see things shaping and I love it. ^ ^

    Stori Tori's Blog

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  61. I thought I left a comment but I don't think I did. Sorry about that! Anyways I am actually not a big fan of editing. It's kind of a daunting job for me. I'm currently working towards finishing up a book that I will be pitching to an editor in March. I want it so to be perfect so badly, but I'm terrified that I haven't done a good enough job. That said, the one thing I do enjoy about editing is finding all the funny sentences and one-liners you inserted into the story. That's always fun to discover! :) Plus you realize that it's okay, you did the best job you could have done on your story. No need to fret. :)

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    1. Excellent outlook, Rene--best wishes in March!

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