Good Monday morning, Seekerville, and Happy Valentine's Day! I (Carrie) am here to introduce today's guest for this month's 'One Thing That Works For Me' series. Please join me in welcoming author, podcaster, and all-around super-cool person Kristi Ann Hunter to share about an editing trick that works for her. By the way, if you haven't yet checked out her books, I can't think of a better day than one dedicated to romance!
Edit. Technically speaking, it’s a four-letter word, but for some writers it’s an agonizing chamber of never-ending torture as you comb through the sentences looking for the right place to add a word here or change a phrase there or enhance this sensory detail or remove that unnecessary description.
Allow me to make it worse. At least it’s going to sound that way at first. For some of you, though, it will be the best editing advice you’ve ever heard. How do I know? Because it’s the best editing advice I’ve ever heard and the person I learned it from claimed the same thing.
We’re talking about a very particular stage of edits today. Some people call them substantive edits, others call them high-level, and still others refer to them as rewrites. For this article we’re going to use the term rewrites. One, because it’s shorter, and two, because, well, you’ll see in a minute.
What works for me at this stage of editing is to rewrite the book.
I open the existing manuscript on one side of the screen and a blank document on the other. Then I start typing.
I retype every single word of that book. Does it take a while? Yes. Do I occasionally copy and paste a couple of sentences or even a paragraph? Yes. Do I think it’s worth it? Thirteen books later, I’m gonna have to say yes.
What is the benefit of rewriting you may ask? Well, when you are already retyping every word of the book, you lose any hesitation to change something. It can be easy to let something okay stay in the book instead of replacing it with something great, just because it’s already there and it works. When you are going to retype it anyway, there’s no reason not to tweak a sentence’s phrasing or switch out one word for a slightly better one.
I find when I rewrite, I make small changes, add tiny details, and find a better rhythm for the story in general because all I’m having to think about is the phrasing on the page. The plot, characters, twists, and turns have already been set. I can bring all my creative energy into the words themselves.
Interested in trying the rewrite everything method for yourself? Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Large or double screens make this easier. I have a double wide screen on my desk but you can also hook a monitor to a laptop and get the same effect.
- You will add words. Lots of them. Make sure you leave room in your word count to add the little details and enhancements. I typically add 20,000 words to a full size novel during this pass, so I try to size my first draft accordingly.
- While you will type this faster than you wrote the first time since most of the creative direction decisions have already been made, it will take time. Build that into your schedule.
- This is a lot of typing. A lot. I used to have to break out the wrist braces until I got an ergonomic keyboard. Take care of yourself.
If you try this and find it to be the best editing advice you’ve ever heard, I’d love to hear about it. Unfortunately I can’t pass it along to the original advice giver because it was a screen cap of a tumblr post that I came across on Pinterest.
Inspiration is everywhere, people. Don’t be afraid to use it.
~*~*~*~*~A Rough Draft Life, she spends time with her family in Georgia playing board games, being a dance mom, and living her own happily ever after.
What questions do you have for Kristi Ann Hunter about her rewriting everything method?