On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and up next on my offer was my good friend and blogging sister, Claire Luana.  If you don’t already follow Claire’s blog, you’ll want to hope on over there right now and hit the Follow button!  Anyway, here’s Claire…


Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

When I am hitting a rough patch in editing, I change the format. Somehow, sitting in front of the computer looking at the same screen for hours on end can kill my editing mojo. When I was doing a developmental edit of my current WIP, Moonburner, I started writing plot points on post-it notes and moving them around. When I hit another bump in the road, I created a non-linear map of how all my subplots connected, so I could look at the whole universe of it together.

For my latest edit, I printed my manuscript out and read it like a book. I highlighted areas that tripped me up or didn’t sound quite right, but didn’t go back and edit them until later, to keep myself in “reader” mode, rather than “editing” mode. I have found that the change in perspective from something purely mental to something a bit more tangible has made a huge difference for me when I am stuck.

What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing?  What is your weakest point of editing and why?

I haven’t been writing for very long, so I am not sure I have fixed my biggest mistakes yet! As far as process, it was a mistake for me to over-outline. I am a very type-A person and so I assumed that I would be a “plotter,” not a “pantser.” I spent several months outlining, creating character sketches, even finding photos for my characters to put into my Scrivener folders! But when I actually sat down to write, I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. My overanalyzing of the story before it even began crippled my creativity. I ended up scrapping the whole project and starting from scratch on another idea with a one-page outline. It flowed amazingly!

I would also say it is a mistake (for me at least) to read books on the craft of writing and editing while I am in the process. It makes me start to doubt myself and go back and end up in a revision spiral. It is better for me to read a book on craft, absorb those lessons, and then sit down to my writing and editing with those things in mind. Mid-stream just didn’t work for me.

As for my weakest point of editing, it is definitely large scale, developmental editing. I have spent a fair amount of time in my professional career with copyediting and line-editing; I feel comfortable with grammatical rules and the Chicago Manual of Style. What still feels like a foreign language are the big things: character arcs, weaving sub-plots, theme, etc. All the aspects of editing for what makes a story compelling, rather than what makes good writing. I am still learning how to get my hands around the scope of a novel without feeling overwhelmed. Any tips would be appreciated 🙂

Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they, and why didn’t they work?

Editing from the beginning, over and over again, without utilizing different methods or focusing for different elements. I spent about three edits just plodding through my work, looking for the same things as I edited. I would get increasingly cavalier about my edits as I continued, meaning the beginning of the work is much tighter than the middle or end. I have learned that each of my edits should be unique–focused on a particular element(s) of the work. And if you are copy-editing, maybe start from the end and work your way backward!

Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

I am currently working on my first novel, a young adult fantasy novel called Moonburner. The synopsis:

Kai lives in Kita, where female sorcerers, moonburners, are hunted down and killed at birth. Her parents raise her as a boy in order to hide her true nature until she comes of age and can flee to neighboring Miina, where moonburners are trained and fight in the ongoing war with Kita.

Kai’s carefully laid plans are dashed when she is exposed as a moonburner and sentenced to death. In keeping with Kita’s cruel tradition, Kai is left to die in a vast desert bordering the two lands. Against all odds, Kai survives the desert and makes it to the citadel in Kita to begin her training.

As Kai struggles to learn to control her moonburning powers, she begins to realize that all is not as it seems at the citadel, and that the ongoing war against Kita has led the citadel leadership down a dark path that could spell the end of all burners. Kai discovers that her ties to the moonburners run deep, and that she holds the future of both Kita and Miina in her hands.

Moonburner is currently with beta readers and I am hopeful that I will begin submitting to agents in September. I am fully expecting that I won’t get any timely bites from agents, though, so I am also exploring self-publishing options!

I am loving connecting with other authors, editors, and writers, so please check out my blog at shotandahalfpint.wordpress.com!


Thank you, Claire, for such wonderful tips!  (I really like the part about keeping it in “reader mode” versus jumping back and forth to “editor mode.”)  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:

10 thoughts on “On Editing

  1. I agree with printing out the manuscript and going through it as a reader first. I’ve always preferred doing that, probably because I used to sit on the train and read through a chapter on the way to work and another on the way back.

    I sometimes do it one last time, after the ‘final’ edit, although now I tend to use an eReader for that. The way the device breaks text up can sometimes allow me to catch something that I may have missed on A4. It also saves me paper and ink!

    Interesting interview. Well done to both.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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