Editing VS Baking

Drafting is like baking a cake. You grab all the right ingredients, all the necessary tools, and by the time you’re done, you have something that can be shared and enjoyed by those around you. 

But the thing is, baking is messy. 

I don’t know about you, but after I bake a chocolate cake, my kitchen counters, floor, face, and clothing are completely dusted with cocoa powder and flour. There’s also a huge stack of dirty bowls, spoons, or measuring cups, and a ton of unused ingredients to put away.

Basically, there’s a lot to clean up, and I’m not always sure where to start.

And that’s how I feel about editing…

Breaking it Down

If I could bake a cake without making a mess, or if I could draft a great story without any mistakes, then cleaning/editing wouldn’t be as confusing or overwhelming.

But I can’t, and it is.

So far, the one thing that helps me out with editing, cleaning, etc. has been breaking the projects down into smaller tasks.

For example, when it comes to cleaning, I usually start by putting any unused ingredients away, then I focus on the dishes. After the ingredients and dishes are out of the way, I have plenty of space to clean the counters and floor. And after the kitchen is clean, I can focus on cleaning myself and my clothes.

Editing is a bit more complicated than cleaning, but breaking the work down into manageable tasks is still doable.

For my current manuscript (book two in the Adventures in Eldnaire series), I’ve had to split the work into five categories.

Structure, character motivations, actions, descriptions, and editor’s notes.

Structure 

There are several parts in my manuscript that need some major revision/rewriting/re-structuring, so these are the areas that I need to focus on first.

Character Motivations 

After the structure issues have been dealt with, I can start working on some of the more detailed issues, like making sure my characters’ motivations are clear, and remain consistent throughout the story.

Actions

Next, there are several scenes in my manuscript with a lot of action, so I need to make sure that the actions and locations of my characters are clearly described and maintained during each scene. 

Descriptions

This is the part of editing that I dread the most. I love dialogue, and action (while not my greatest strength) is still somewhat enjoyable. 

But writing character or scene descriptions feels like I’m mowing a lawn with nothing but a pair of tweezers—all while wearing a blindfold.

It takes a lot of time and energy, and I have no idea if I’m doing it right.

How much description is enough? How much is too much? How much is too little?

I still have absolutely no idea, so it’s a good thing that my editor is around to tell me.

Editors save lives…and stories.

Editor’s Notes

It’s definitely important that I keep checking my editor’s notes during the entire revision process, but for the most part, I’ll be holding off on making any of the smaller suggested changes (like word or sentence alterations) until I’ve finished restructuring the manuscript.

(I’d hate to spend thirty minutes trying to find a synonym for the word “talk” only to realize that the entire chapter I’ve been editing needs to be cut.)

The Ultimate Goal

So, there we have it. This is how I edit in order to avoid becoming ridiculously overwhelmed.

Of course, having a plan doesn’t mean I never get discouraged or feel unmotivated, but having a list of smaller tasks to complete helps me stay focused on my ultimate goal: publishing and sharing my stories with the world.

Before You Go…

Do you enjoy editing your stories, or do you prefer writing the first draft?

Let me know down in the comments!

Are you struggling to write? Check out this article on how to overcome writer’s block!

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