Getting a story down on paper makes my heart sing. Alas, editing is equivalent to cleaning the basement. So, how do I wade through the dirty work? Here are the steps I took with my work in progress, The Scent of Fear:
1) I read each chapter, correcting any spelling/grammar/punctuation issues. While these issues don't normally give me a problem, I've been known to reverse letters in dyslexic fashion. This occurs if I'm: A) tired or B) the creative side is flowing so fast that my brain gets confused.
2) Tripping over a sentence while I'm reading alerts me to a trouble spot. I'll go back and read it out loud within the context of several other paragraphs. This may require substituting a word or re-writing an entire section.
3) One problem I've identified is more of a memory thing. Have you ever forgotten the name or physical characteristic of a minor character and had to hunt it down? What a waste of time and effort! When I work on Book 3, Lost and Found, I'm going to start a spreadsheet with these pesky, but important, details.
4) Like the old dresser I thought I'd refinish and use someday, extraneous phrases and scenes are difficult to cut. One of the rules of clutter control: If I haven't used it in a year throw it out, sell it, or give it away. If words don't pull their weight in the story, out they go.
5) I re-read the chapter after I've made changes. Has it improved or did I make an even bigger mess? On occasion, I've had to retrieve some items from the trash.
Writers: How do you transform your basement first draft into a livable, cozy book?
Readers: What are some of the techniques you use to control clutter?
Photo Credit: JR3