Today, I wanted to take a brief pause to talk about editing. As authors, we know its part of the game. You are going to spend some time editing. Depending on who you read, this is touted as either the same amount of time you spent writing, or anywhere up to 10x that. I’ve recently gotten on the subject because I was curious:
How many people go back and edit/update old blog posts to do more than just point a reference to a later post?
I was sifting through the drawers of my old posts, thinking I wanted to do a tag consolidation and cleanup. While there, I was appalled by how terrible the grammar and spelling are for some of them. And that wasn’t alone for just the blogs. I also felt a need as I perused the flash fiction I have hosted. There’s a few tweaks I’d make to ensure that they are cleaner… Better word conservation and fewer typos.
In my first post after I started doing critiques, I mentioned the feedback I received after turning in my own story for critiquing. It covers a few things on the flow of the story, but I didn’t mention typos.
The story in question was under 5000 words, and I did at least 3 passes on it for typos… And still missed them. When I went back to look up the post discussing it… Found typos in that one too.
I’ve read recently some blog posts on editing (this one and this one, for starters). One spoke about strategy to revise your work. In that post, it mentions that you should start big and work your way small. The premise behind that is you don’t need to spend time cleaning up and prettifying (made-up word? Maybe!) a chapter/scene that you may end up cutting completely from the story. This sounds like good sense to me.
That also hearkens back to a convention I went to about a decade ago where an author was speaking about writing (I don’t even remember the author’s name, tragically), and he mentioned that he can’t count the number of times a hopeful aspirant came to him with a chapter of the upcoming story they were working on. The hoepful had spent weeks or even months polishing and making that chapter beautiful. The author would be shown the chapter, and then would ask, “Where’s the rest of it? You spent umple-teen hours on this chapter… How do you know you will be able to use it if you haven’t finished the rest of the story?”
I’ve taken this to heart, trying not to focus on the little details until I feel great about the big ones.
The twist to this story comes when you are submitting your story for external critique/review. This seems to turn the whole model on its head. You have to get the tiny details perfect or they don’t even notice the big ones. A large number of the critiques I got back from Critters essentially got hung up on the 15 or so misspelled words or poor subject/verb alignment and didn’t bother critiquing the overall plot, characters, or feel of the story.
What do you think about editing? Do you have a particular strategy you use to edit your work? And (to my original question), do you ever go back and edit old blog posts?