Sunday, January 23, 2011

"Editing As I Go" Part 1 - Guest Post by Lauren Boyd

I'm working fervently on book two of my series right now. A few fellow bloggers have offered to help me out by providing guest posts. This week I'm pleased to introduce Lauren Boyd. Thanks for being here, Lauren!

I like words.

That’s one reason why I started writing in September of 2009.

Mostly, I wrote picture book manuscripts because my two young children are a great source of inspiration and ideas. Since a picture book manuscript doesn’t have many words, I could quickly type it up, just to get the words down, then edit it to sharpen it before submitting it.

But then, in May of last year, I saw a news clip about something that struck me as very interesting.

And I decided I wanted to write a novel on the subject.

The longest piece I’d ever written for possible publication was a 1,222 word manuscript for young readers. So the idea of writing something as long as a novel was daunting. In fact, I wondered if I would lose motivation before I even finished it.

But my excitement about the topic won out, and I jumped right into writing! No plan, no outline, nothing. I just started writing.

I didn’t write the chapters in order: I wrote them as they came to mind and renumbered them as necessary.

As I went along, I felt like I was writing well – like this first draft could be my final product. At one point, my husband, Jason, asked me how long I thought it would take to write the entire manuscript. “It shouldn’t take long,” I answered him. “I’m editing as I go.”

My manuscript had a fictional plot and characters. But the topic was non-fictional (scientific), so I had to do extensive research as I went along in order to make sure I was incorporating correct information into my writing – because I wanted that aspect of the story to be completely accurate.

Then, in September of 2010, after spending most evenings of the previous four months on this novel, I finished it! It was done! Jason expressed interest in reading it, so I decided to take him up on his offer. I gave him a few chapters at a time to read. I knew it would be good to have new eyes go over the manuscript, in case there were any outstanding problems.

So much for “editing as I go.”

Turns out, this first draft was not going to be my final product. (Incidentally, my husband should have been an editor).

He found things that he said were not believable or realistic. He pointed out things about the scientific world that don’t happen the way I had described them (he’s an engineer who works with scientists.) He pointed out responses in conversations that could be better stated.

And a lot of the problems he found occurred in the first three chapters, which were fundamental in setting the stage for the rest of the story.

So much for “editing as I go.”

I had a lot of work ahead of me.

I began to revise, rewrite, and edit. As I went along, I found things that I knew could be better written – in addition to what Jason had suggested. Maybe it was a catchier way to say something. Maybe it was a more concise way to say something. Maybe it was a better way to explain something. I even realized as I double-checked my research that I had mistyped or miscalculated a few things.

As I read through the manuscript, I realized that I hadn’t discovered my style of writing, “or voice”, until about halfway through chapter three. I wouldn’t have noticed this without a final edit. Therefore, I rewrote the first two chapters and half of the third chapter in my “voice”, in order to match the rest of the manuscript.

So much for “editing as I go.”

I went through each chapter of my manuscript, one by one, and edited it. It took self-discipline. It took perseverance.

It took four months.

As long as it had taken to write the first draft.

How about you? Do you write to get your ideas down and then edit when you’re finished? Or do you edit as you go and your manuscript turns out beautifully?

Come back on Wednesday to learn what Lauren learned from her editing experience!

Lauren Boyd blogs about writing at There, she offers thoughts about writing based on her own experience and research of the publishing industry. Hopefully, her musings will help you. If you enjoy her blog, please visit often!


  1. LOL! I usually do edit as I go. Once, I wrote some chapters out of sequence too just to get them down--and edited later. :)

  2. Thanks, Jennifer, for stopping by! I know what you mean about writing chapters out of sequence. You can't help in what order they come to mind!

  3. Thanks, Julie, for having me this week! It's an honor to be here!

  4. I'm learning my first draft is only the very, very beginning, and the revision, re-writes is where the story really takes shape. You must be thankful that your husband, your ideal reader, is so supportive and honest!

  5. You put that very well Lynn. And you're right: I am so grateful for my husband's support. It makes all the difference!
    Thanks for commenting!

  6. No, no, no I do NOT edit as I go! I need several revision passes. I do, however, know people who do edit as they go and I'm amazed!

  7. I know what you mean, Jill! Those revisions after writing make all the difference in the world. And I agree: I don't know how those lucky folks edit as they go. It's a gift, I guess! :)