Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
Today is (I'm fairly sure) the last day for the sale of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet. So if you're wanting it for your Kindle/Kindle app for $2.99, make sure to grab it before the sale expires.
I've been frantically working on edits for the second Ellie Sweet book, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, which hits digital bookshelves this November. It had been awhile since I had done a micro edit, and I had forgotten just how time consuming and mentally absorbing the process is.
After complaining to my husband that each page seemed to be taking a half hour to edit, I decided to time myself on a few full pages (not ones with chapter headers and such) which are usually about 500 words long. Here were my results: (Minutes/seconds)
But why was does it sometimes take thirty-seven minutes to edit 500 words? Because the micro edit is the time to question everything.
Is that the word I want to use? Did I research that fact? Should I move this scene to later? Why is this character here but not another character? This scene says it takes place Monday, but that can't be right for this and this reason. What's a non-cliche way to describe relief flooding a person?
And on it goes.
I thought you might be interested in seeing the before and after. These are two different sections that I reworked on Saturday. Since this is from the sequel to The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, I tried to pick bits that wouldn't give away anything too big:
Mom holds my gaze until I turn and look at the TV, feigning interest in the man screaming at me about the outrages of publicly funded preschools.
On the drive home, as we pass Karen’s old house, Mom looks over her seat and asks, “Does Karen know Leo’s back in town?”
It’s not betraying my aunt to say yes, is it? Mom had sounded so worried over having to break the news to her. I nod.
“Has she seen him yet?”
I bite my lip. That might be conveying too much information.
“Never mind.” Mom faces forward again. “I don’t want to put you in a bad situation with your aunt.”
“Thank you,” I whisper.* (This asterisk means that when I wrote my first draft, I didn't want to use the word whispered, but I couldn't think of anything else, so I left it but made an asterisk to tell my future self - "hey, replace this later.)Micro-edited draft:
Mom holds my gaze until I turn and look at the TV, as if I’m interested in the red-faced man hollering about the outrages of publicly-funded preschools.
On the drive home, as we pass Karen’s old house, Mom looks over her seat. “Does Karen know Leo’s back in town?”
Is it betraying my aunt to say yes? Mom sounded so worried about having to break the news to her…
“Has she seen him yet?”
I bite my lip. That seems like more than I should divulge.
“Never mind.” Mom faces forward. “I don’t want to put you in a tough spot with your aunt.”And then I cut that last sentence because I decided Ellie would probably just stay quiet. Here's another one:
I draw in a deep breath. “I’m worried about you. All week, you’ve kept getting worse. I just…just wanted to call.”
This time, Palmer sighs. “You didn’t have to do that, Gabrielle. I told you, I’m a big boy, and I can handle this.”
“You seem like you haven’t been sleeping well.”
“I can handle a little sleep loss. It’s late, and you should be sleeping.”
“My Grandmom mentioned you at dinner tonight,” I say. “She said she missed having you bring her lunch, that you were always real friendly.”
Palmer snorts. “You’d never have known she thought that by the way she acted.”
“Grandmom always likes people better in hindsight. Even me. She always talks like I was some magical child, but I remember when I was a child feeling like I was the biggest pain in her butt.”
His chuckle is soft. “That’s hard to imagine. I bet you were a great kid. The quiet type who sat in the corner and read.”
“Something like that.”
And the micro-edited version:
I draw in a deep breath. “I’m worried about you. All week, you’ve kept getting worse. I just…wanted to call and see if I could help.”
“I told you—I’m a big boy. I can handle this.”
I wind a curly strand of hair around my finger. Unwind. “You look like you haven’t been sleeping well.”
“I can handle a little sleep loss. It’s late—you should be sleeping.”
“My Grandmom mentioned you at dinner tonight.” I brush back my bangs from where they tickle my forehead. “She said she misses you bringing her lunch. That you were always ‘a real friendly young man.’”
Palmer snorts. “You’d never know she thought that by the way she acted.”
“I’m convinced Grandmom likes people better in hindsight. Even me. She’ll talk like I was some magical child, but as a kid I always felt like I was the biggest pain in her butt.”
“That’s hard to imagine. I bet you were a great kid. The quiet type who sat in the corner and read.”
I smile in the dark of my room. “Yep, that was me.”
While this round of edits is tedious, it means that my next draft will be mostly polishing, tweaking, and smoothing. That read-through goes much quicker.
Any questions about micro-editing? Do you enjoy editing? What's your favorite/least favorite part?
And, since today is Connor's third birthday, and since I rarely pass up opportunities to show pictures of my kids, here's one I snapped of him at his baseball birthday party last Friday: