The Editing Diaries– Editing Prep

Welcome to my new series, The Editing Diaries!

In a nutshell, I’m editing my story LASER and bringing you guys along for the ride. I want you to see how my process for editing novels (and maybe I’ll figure out my process with you). So, buckle your seatbelts, we’re going on a trip!


So, where do we start?

We start with Draft 1.5. I call it Draft 1.5 because it has been edited, but only a bit and mostly in the transition from notebook to computer screen.

As I type up Draft 1.5, I have someone reading each chapter as I type, catching minor problems, but mostly being an encouragement for me to keep typing. This is the first bit of feedback I get. Once Draft 1.5 is typed up, it goes to the rest of my alpha-readers.

I wait the prescribed 6-weeks before diving into editing… which is a very long and frustrating time.


Five out of six weeks are over. I have received feedback from most of my alphas.  I have to tell you, I am very happy with the feedback I got.

Scrivener Shot for ED 2
Spoiler-free feedback from Lily J.

Like I said in this post, feedback should be carefully considered, even if you disagree with it. But ultimately, the story is yours and it is your decision what to change and how you change it. It’s interesting when two alphas have differing thoughts on certain points… may you never go through that. It makes things more complicated. However, it does encourage you to make the decision your own.

In order to change and improve your story, you must first know what needs to be changed. And to do that, you must read it.

photo (2)
Kindle and Notebook. Spoiler-free. Good luck reading my handwriting.

I’ve been rereading LASER and making notes for what I should fix. All kinds of notes, macro and micro. This list is longer than I anticipated (and I’m only just over half way through the story!) and it’s a bit frightening. But I am noting almost every problem I catch so I don’t forget it.

Now, I am not actually fixing anything yet. This is preparation for editing. I’m putting my story and it’s problems on the metaphorical back-burner, so I can think about them before I actually start trying to fix it. When you’re editing, knowing what to do is always a good idea.

After I finish the read-through, I have to copy my list and sort it into three categories: Macro, Major Micro, and Minor Micro.

One Note for ED
It’ll be more impressive when I actually copy my list into this…

So, what’s the difference between Macro, Major Micro, and Minor Micro?

Macro is the structure of the building.

This is your plot and your characters. Make sure these work. If your structure is way off and your villain dies in Chapter 2 (for example), now is the time to fix that. If your MC is flat, now is when you fix that. If you don’t know why that one character or plot twist exists, now is the time to get rid of it.

Major Micro is where the sinks go.

This is stuff that is still crucial, but it’s not as important as characters and plot. (I’m honestly not sure how to explain this one…)

Minor Micro is what color the living room is painted.

This is how you tell the story. This is when you work on how you tell the story. This is where POV and style are adjusted.

There’s actually another level of Micro beneath Minor, but that’s where a vase of flowers gets put.

This is when you fix typos and such. It is not important in this stage of editing. There’s no point in decorating a house that’s about to fall in. That’s why you pay attention to the Macro first.

Two more steps of editing prep! I import LASER into Scrivener and divide it into chapters. Then, I have to write little chapter summaries up on the little digital index cards.

Scrivener 4
Name on first index card changed to protect fictitious, innocent-ish jerk.

The final step is writing up scenes on real index cards and putting them on my bulletin board. I don’t have a picture for this, since I haven’t done it, yet.

So, there you have it. That’s most of my editing prep process. I left out the part about the panicking. I tend to panic when there’s a really big problem that I don’t yet have a solution for.

I should probably make this my desktop picture for a while…

Now, because I’m curious, if any of you have edited before, what steps do you take to prepare? (I realize I left out “Stock up on chocolate”.) And does anyone know a good way to explain “Major Micro”?



27 thoughts on “The Editing Diaries– Editing Prep

  1. I edit by writing my story out over and over again, until I get sick of it/it’s finished. I’m working on my final write through, because I think I’ve finally molded the story enough, I just need to get it all written out. Considering I’ve been working on this one story for 3 years and haven’t completely finished a draft before, I’m not a very example, so please, don’t try this. 😛

  2. Awesome. I’m procrastinating from editing, and I think I sort of did the same things. I only waited a month, not six weeks, but it was amazing how much it distances you from the story and how that helps… Anyway, then I read through it and took my own notes, like you.

    Then I got to spend a delightful month and a half doing more world-building. Mmm, world-building, fun… *is mostly sarcastic*

    I think the only major step that you took and I didn’t was let alpha readers read the story. I started to let a few people read it, but then I decided I didn’t want them to finish, and so I told them they have to wait for draft two. Mean, I know, but the horribleness of the first draft was too much.

    Anyway. Is the major micro editing fixing smaller structure, or is that just another level of macro? Like, chapter structure, or subplots, or whatnot.

    Also, your handwriting isn’t that bad. I could make out most the words. The ones not covered by your kindle, that is…and the kindle probably saved me from reading spoilers, hehe.

  3. Haha, I love your method of describing editing! It really makes sense. xD This was really interesting to read because I’m going through the same process right now and trying to figure things out (sans the whole notebook step, because my handwriting sucks too much for me to even try that) and it’s neat to see how someone else is handling it.

  4. Ooh, this seems like a great new series. I am plotting a complete rewrite for the third draft of my novel so I guess I’m in the major major major stage. Hopefully I’ll finish it during Camp NaNo in April. Then I suppose I’ll start the actual editing. I think my process will be very similar to yours in that I break it up into stages. First is the read through (my favorite part), where I list all the things I need to fix for the major problems. And I’ll probably ask CPs about what they think the major problems are before I set to work fixing the major things. Then I plan to do a minor edit focusing on things like dialogue and such. And finally, I’ll do a line edit and proofread to make sentences shine. In reality, it’ll probably be way more messy than that, though. *sighs* I do enjoy editing, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

  5. Ohhh, this makes me want Scrivener. I edit really slow and by the time I’m like 2 weeks in, I always forget what’s happened in previous chapters and that little recap would SAVE MY LIFE. I’M TELLING YA. *ahem* So you’re definitely more detailed than me. xD My first edit I rewrite the whole thing. I concentrate on making the writing tighter and hopefully the story making sense. But I often sink when I have to make HUGE changes. 0_0 That’s when I end up throwing the book over my wall (like, in sticky notes and things, haha, not like literally) to figure it out.

    • I got Scrivener for $32 with a discount, but it’s only $40 without it.
      Well, this is only my second time editing ever. I’m still figuring out how to do it. 😛 Plus, I don’t outline a lot before hand, so this is me figuring out what my story is after I write it. XD

  6. *giggles at “Sir Jerk-a-lot”*

    This makes it sound very…organized. I feel better because you put the panicking part at the end.

    It also is making me want to edit in an “I feel like organizing stuff” kind of way…but unfortunately my brain knows it’s a frustrating kind of organizing.

    Major micro…okay, let’s take a stab at it. Macro is the plot twist that came out of nowhere in a bad way, the character that has no point, the foreshadowing that didn’t go anywhere. Major micro is the character that has a point for existing, but needs to be rounded out more to be believable; the plot that needs expanding (aka needs a subplot or something); the worldbuilding that needs work. I’d say it’s the stuff that’s not disastrously messy but still needs work/needs to be added. How’s that? 🙂

  7. My comments are a lovely shade of blue.

    Sounds like you’ve got a lovely battle plan, m’dear. I had a print out of that motivational sticky note taped to my wall at one point. It was lovely. I like your description of the macro and micro editing processes. 🙂

Ooh! Are you going to leave a comment? I love comments! And I like replying to them, too!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s