Sunday, 3 June 2012

My Red Editing Pen

Last week I came home from five gloriously sunny days in the French countryside. I had some lovely trips out but I also found time to edit my second novel, In Hindsight. I love the red-pen stage. It means I finished my book, I've printed a hard copy and I'm ready to read the whole piece through.

It's always surprising how the black and white pages become decorated with red squiggles or lines when I think I've paid attention throughout its creation! I find it's such a beneficial discipline to leave my work for as long as I can suffer its absence. Re-reading my story after a few weeks or months, highlights areas for improvement. It enables me to spot silly mistakes, for instance, I had a magnolia tree blooming in September! Now I always check the time of year with what's happening in nature.

I check that each chapter is relevant to the flow of the story and make sure it moves the narrative along. This is also where the odd spelling mistake jumps out at me, poor grammar is spotted and over-looked cliches are crossed out. I find that editing a hard copy is far easier than gazing at a computer screen for hours at a time. I can see where my text slows down, either from too many similes or superfluous adjectives. By now my red editing pen has left trails of ink as if a drunken snail has crawled across the page!

Now I'm home my next step is to work through the hard copy and transfer the corrections onto my laptop. I plan to do this over the jubilee weekend. Then I'll print another hard copy, but this time I'll put it into a file and read it in the form of a book. Loose sheets are great for the first edit, but I like to have my pages bound for my second edit. I feel I'm getting closer to sending it off to my agent! At this stage I'm ensuring that I've varied my sentence lengths, avoided repetitive words, minimized adverbs and improved my choice of words. I develop my characters and check continuity. I make sure I've used equal amounts of narrative, introspection and dialogue. I ensure points of view are used correctly and I've used the correct names! Occasionally I read a piece of dialogue and have the wrong person speaking!

Towards the end of this month I'll do my third and final edit. Some people do more than three and some less. I feel that after three edits, my agent will give me some feedback for my fourth edit. I can't imagine any agent has read a manuscript and said, 'Don't change a thing!'

So much has happened and changed in my life whilst writing this novel. I can honestly say that it has helped me through very difficult times. My characters became 'friends' who made me laugh and cry. My protagonist became a widow, and having lost my dad earlier this year, I changed the way she grieved. See an earlier post. I realised that grief wasn't all about wailing and hair-pulling. My characters kept me company and kept my mind focused.

Hopefully one day it will be published, and you can all read about their trials, relationships, hopes, tribulations and dreams.


  1. Brilliant news Ange (and gorgeous picture) I love editing too - it's a bit addictive. Good luck with the changes! xx

  2. Lovely photos, Ange. It's great to get to that editing stage - very good luck with finding an agent/publisher!

  3. All very thorough, Angela. I'm looking forward to reading both of your novels.
    The poem in your previous post seemed as if it might be echoing events in your own life.

  4. Thanks Megan. I hope The Lives of Ghosts are flying off the shelves. xx

    Reaching the editing stage feels like a real achievement. I do have an agent, but finding a publisher is what puts books on the shelves!!! I'm crossing my fingers and toes! xx

    Hi Keith. Thanks for popping by. I hope all's going well with your writing and you're continuing to win competitions at Nottingham Writers' Club! : )

  5. *Sorry Rosemary. The second little paragraph was for you!. Thank you so much for reading and posting! xx

  6. I love the editing stage too - but I find that doubts begin to creep in about whether it was a good idea or not. :) Nice post, Ange and lovely photos.

  7. Lovely piece, Ange. I particularly liked your observation about life events that happened alongside the writing. It's a side of writing we often forget about - how our novels become at various times an exclusive companion for our lives. Fingers crossed for your agent's response.

  8. good luck with getting it published

  9. Good Luck with this Ange, I'm really looking forward to reading it. You give some great advice about editing which is such an important part of awriter's job.

  10. Hi Nettie. Yes the doubt definitely creeps in. It doesn't help that I've just read The Poet's Wife by Judith Allnatt and can only dream of writing like her. Thank you for popping by. xx

    Dirtywhitecandy - thank you for reading and commenting. It's very true that our writing and our characters share life's ups and downs with us. xx

    Beadyjan - Thank you so much for your good luck wishes. xx

    It's always lovely to hear from you Avril. I pray that one day you WILL be able to read In Hindsight in the form of a book! Thank you for your good luck message. xx