Guess What? Revising & Editing are Different!

April’s Camp NaNoWriMo is wrapping up and my project for the month was to edit my novel.

Edit… Simple right? I thought all I had to do was read through it a few times and fix my mistakes so it would be ready for beta readers.  (That’s how I edit a short story.  Why would a novel be any different?)

Boy was I mistaken! Holy crap!

FIRST OFF: I thought revising and editing were mostly the same thing.

WRONG!

  • Revising focuses on how your story reads, filling in plot holes, making characters act appropriately, ensuring the story makes sense, consistency, and flow.
  • Editing focuses on the mechanics of the language.

PLUS – each step in the process has been getting progressively harder… I can’t imagine the challenges I’ll have just trying to get someone to actually read the novel when I’m done!

A TIP I learned – Do NOT edit the document before revising it! All the time you spend editing will be thrown away when/if you discard the scene or rework it. Trust me. I did this.

It takes me twice as long to revise a scene as it did to write it! What’s the saying? Writing is rewriting? I COMPLETELY get this now. I wrote “draft zero” in 45 days. I’m now 30 days into my revisions and anticipate another 30 days at least before I’ll have any kind of draft I’d show someone. For someone who just likes to get stuff done, this is a little frustrating. I focus on completing one scene at a time and this helps me feel like I accomplished something.  How can writing a novel take a full year or two?  I now understand.

Oh! AND the emotions I feel while revising the novel make it difficult at times to continue… (Like not shoving everything into a drawer while staring at a haphazardly strung together “sentence” or my heart sinking at the stiff dialogue.) Luckily, with the downs, come a balance of ups. Like THIS POLL that encouraged me people would keep reading past my first page. (Again thank you to everyone who read it and responded.) These ups, along with just determination to finish what I started, keep me going.

TOOLS that have helped me:

  1. WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Plot, Structure, & Scene by Martha Alderson. (Amazon link here) I stopped in the middle of the month to read this book after finding some gaping caverns in my plot. This will forever change the way I plot a book. I was doing a lot of the techniques in the book naturally, but having an understanding of them gave me a new perspective. The most eye opening part was how important strategic and deliberate pacing is to keep your reader engaged. Looking at your scenes as to who’s actually in charge (protagonist vs antagonist) helps with this pacing.
  2. IT WAS THE BEST OF SENTENCES, IT WAS THE WORST OF SENTENCES by June Casagrande. (Amazon link here) I’ve been out of school for 20+ years and felt I needed a refresher on sentence structure. I’m not done with this book yet, but already have learned a tremendous amount. I lack skills in sentence structure and other rules of grammar. I’m learning that no matter how hard I try, I’ll still need an editor. I’m cheap and struggle with spending the money. What is the statistic? The average self-published book sells less than 10 copies or something like that?

PLUS – with all of this, I DIDN’T WIN CAMP NANOWRIMO! I set a goal to expand my novel during the revision process from 50K to 80K by adding details and emotions. I’ll meet this goal, but it will take much longer than expected. Deleting things is part of the rewrite. I’m finishing up April at 66-67K, which did not meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goals. BUT I’M OKAY WITH THAT! I’m getting a better novel out of the ordeal and I’ve learned so much about the writing process.  (An additional win – I worked on the novel every day in April.)

So, with all these things and the time and effort into writing, why do I do it? What keeps me going? Because my characters want their story told? Because I enjoy writing? Those are all true, but the real reason… The major driver?

Because I hope one person reads and ENJOYS my book. 

Really, that’s it.

Thanks for reading.

–Joy

 

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
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21 Responses to Guess What? Revising & Editing are Different!

  1. Wise words! I didn’t fully understand the difference either. Your post has helped me see and I’m going to read the books you recommend before I begin REVISING the books I wrote during NaNoWriMo and now Camp. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, it was eye opening for me. That is even AFTER I thought I completed a novel before. I realize now I completely skipped the revision step and went right from the first draft to editing. No wonder it’s sitting in a drawer.

      I’d recommend the WRITING BLOCKBUSTER PLOTS for sure as a starting point.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lana says:

    Ooh, good post! I’m going to be revising a novel soon-ish, so thank you for sharing your experiences and tips–they’ll be really useful. Also, good job on working on your novel every day this month! That’s an awesome accomplishment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As always, thanks for reading and commenting on my post! Congrats on getting to the point of your novel that you are close to revising it. I hope you find it much more exciting that I did. I can’t wait to be done and start a new project.

      Like

      • Lana says:

        You’re welcome, and thanks! I hope I find it exciting…I’m sure there’ll be dull parts but I’m really excited for the novel and its series and I’ve wanted to revise it ever since I finished it…so yeah, hopefully it’ll be exciting.

        Ooh, do you have any ideas of what your new project will be about when you finish with this one?

        Liked by 1 person

        • How long have you been finished with your novel?

          I want to write some more short stories next and try to submit some for publication. I tried to write a novel and the short stories at the same time, but I can’t balance it all.

          Like

          • Lana says:

            I finished it last October, so it’s been about half a year. Hopefully that’ll give me some good perspective on it.

            Ooh, cool! I’d like to write more short stories as well, but I seem to have better novel ideas than short story ideas. I have toyed with the idea of publishing one of my short stories though. Good luck with yours!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. wwwpalfitness says:

    Based on your post it does suggest why people either walk out or with they did walk out of a movie as they did not do proper revisions and you are like wtf this has nothing to do with anything. I mean a nonsensical phrase or saying hey we are 4 hours late for the wedding you are in. How far away? 10 miles West, Oh I know of an Arby’s 10 miles East and Arby’s not eating were even a damn thought until then and this is not the groom or they are looking for him That is a serious difference than Editing. I take enough sleep stuff to knock out an elephant and I wake up happy I stayed as a draft. LOLOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jessica M says:

    Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t win Camp, but your numbers are still really quite impressive! So congratulations anyway!

    My favorite editing would be doing line edits. And it’s definitely a good idea to give yourself a grammar refresher every few years. Revising is… likened to a nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No problem on not winning camp. I’m still moving forward and it feels so much better to write with no pressure.

      Wow, you enjoy line edits? Congrats! It’s a great thing to enjoy.

      Thanks for reading and the comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a good thing to understand the difference between. I can understand the pain of having gone to all the effort to edit then have to revise.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so happy I’m teaching something useful to my students! I teach a lot of automotive students, so I use the analogy of how you approach car repair. Revising is like looking and understanding how an engine works: you’re looking at the whole system and how parts work (or don’t work) together. Editing is like fixing or replacing one part, or one subsystem, an oil change for example, so the whole thing can run correctly.

    And I agree: “revising is sometimes ‘like a nightmare’, especially when you’ve crafted what you think is this easy-to follow, wonderfully evolving story. Line edits are much easier: for the most part grammar is black and white.”

    Like

  7. Amy Walters says:

    Great post, it’s a relief to hear that other people hate revisions too! I do actually edit as I go, simply because I have so much to learn that if I didn’t edit what I’d just written I’d never pick up on all the passive voice and adverbs that I’m prone to using. Hopefully, one day, when I’ve progressed a bit, that won’t be the case any longer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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