My editing process

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My editing process by D.M. Cain

My editing process is a long and tiring one, but strangely I wholeheartedly enjoy parts of it (especially the early stages.)

I initially write my books using two methods. I spend a few hours a week sitting in cafes or restaurants with my trusty notebook, where I will hand-write sections of my story. It’s a bit old-school, I know, but there’s something special about cutting off from technology and getting back to basics with good old pen and paper. I often find that this is when my creativity truly blossoms.

The Shield of Soren The Light and Shadow Chronicles DM Cain handwritten
A handwritten page of The Shield of Soren

The other way that I write large sections of my novels is through #Writestorm sessions. These are amazing short power bursts of writing that I complete with other author friends, during which we race to write as many words as possible within a given time. The work I produce in these sessions is often quite rough and needs heavy editing, but this process allows me to get a large number of words down quickly.

editing paper amediting DM Cain

So, after my initial draft is written, my first edit begins. I wouldn’t dream of letting a real editor even glance at an early version, so instead I print it out and edit it myself on paper. Again, doing the work on real paper somehow allows me to see errors more easily and not get distracted by the screen flickering and e-mail notifications popping up.(Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks editing on paper is the way forward)

This is when I do my initial line editing changes, including picking up the ridiculous typos that I’ve made during writestorms!

I also try to pick myself up on the errors that I know I am prone to making: Starting every sentence with a proper noun or pronoun (I’m terrible for that…), lots of ‘looking’, passive voice, unnecessary detail.

Once my line editing is complete, I do the whole thing again. I start from the beginning and edit it through for overall plot consistency and to check it fits in with the timeline of my greater series (when editing my fantasy books). I tend to make errors to do with times of day, weather, etc and need to check for those. Sometimes I need to add new chapters or take out unnecessary chapters to improve the overall plot structure.

Then, when I’m happy with my version, it goes to my editor – the amazing Pam Elise Harris. No matter how well I think I’ve edited it, she will still tear it to shreds! I pull my hair out, fret over things, lose sleep through anxiety, then finally actually sit down and make the changes. It is ALWAYS 100% better after the changes she has suggested. She does 2 or 3 passes over it and then, when we’re both happy with it, it goes to the proofreader.

Sophie Thomas – another amazing member of my team – reads it through, picks up anything we’ve missed and points out anything glaring that we have forgotten about, or been too close to the book to see. Then it’s finally ready!


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3 thoughts on “My editing process

  1. I admire you for writing by hand. I love doing it but it’s SO much work to type it after and my handwriting goes to hell after… well… not long.

    I know quite a few people who use speech to text (and I sometimes do it if I’m having eye problems or headaches from my TBI) but it’s hard to continue with the right “voice” for writing. If you’ve got a good headset and software, it can really help with speed. Without the right voice that doesn’t really help though.

    1. I totally agree about voice-to-text programs – Dragon makes all sorts of mistakes if I’m not speaking perfectly. But it’s still the quickest way for me to get a large amount of text down on the page

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