I’ve been asked what certain parts of my editing and revision process looks like so I’ll do my best to answer and try not to look too much like a tool:
So I’ve got this big black binder sitting open on a stool next to where I’m sitting. Inside are the 460 pages of Undercover. It works thusly – I write a first draft. No one sees the first draft and I’m always convinced it’s crap until I do the first read. Then I print it and put it in a binder and begin hand edits for revision.
Some pages are blessedly free of notes while others have stickies and hand written edits in the margins. My handwriting starts off very legible but I can tell when I look back when I’ve been at it a while. I begin to see what my repeated crimes are and attempt to purge them (overuse of a certain word or phrase – “murmured” is one, “just” or “well” often too).
Then, I take it chapter by chapter and upload it to my crit group.
They’ll find things I couldn’t see because I’m too close the material. They’ll call me out on my grammar crimes and my overlong sentences. They’ll help me make it better.
I’ll take their crit and make changes to the manuscript and then it’ll go to my agent. She’ll take a gander and will make comments and then I’ll tweak it at long last and send it to my editor.
All in all, the revision process will take about ten days. More if there are a lot of problems to be fixed.
Not very complicated or mysterious really. This part of the process is where everything shiny threatens to derail me. I start thinking about new projects. I get antsy about my schedule. I have to be really hard assed with myself.
Anyway, that’s a glimpse of my totally glamorous life. BTW, I have to hide my highlighters because my three year old likes to steal them to color with and now that my kids are reading (two of the three) I can’t use my old manuscripts as scrap paper with the older ones, at least the sex scene parts anyway.
Any other questions? I can’t promise I’ll know the answer or that I can give the answer but I’m usually pretty open…
December 20th, 2007 at 2:46 pm · Link
Thanks for sharing your process with me. I am a mom with a one year old and a four year old boy and I know how hectic life with a toddler can be. I just wonder how do you manage to get any writing done? Maybe i should put it this way “Do you get any sleep?” 😀
December 20th, 2007 at 3:01 pm · Link
It’s really very interesting and amazing that you have written so much when your kids were so small and home. Can never keep enough paper, pens or markers home now that my little one is in First grade.
December 20th, 2007 at 3:30 pm · Link
Funny, funny, post with your kids! I teach so I know all about those highlighters! I’m forever giving scratch paper to the kids in my class to take home to draw on. Mine doesn’t have sex scenes, but boring old worksheets.
December 20th, 2007 at 3:32 pm · Link
Very informative post.
My two year old grandson takes the pens out of my purse to color with.
December 20th, 2007 at 5:43 pm · Link
Cherie – LOL, I get more sleep now than I did last year. Now that two of the three kiddos are in school, I get more work done during the day so I’m not up until 1am anymore most nights!
Christine – I love how kids get so into drawing and coloring. They use scratch paper more often than they do coloring books!
Laura – worksheets are far more appropriate than sex scenes!
Estella – LOL. I have to hide my purse or the contents end up everywhere.
December 20th, 2007 at 6:48 pm · Link
I always think it’s interesting to see how writers each have their own ways to to do things…It’s funny how there can be so much variety!!
December 20th, 2007 at 7:02 pm · Link
Besides spelling and minor grammar mistakes, have you ever come across a huge problem with you draft? Have whole passages been discarded or totally rewritten after submitting it?
December 20th, 2007 at 7:31 pm · Link
When I was finishing my degree I had to hide my course papers from my kids because they think any paper is for their artistic purposes. And anything that will write even makeup ends up in their little hands being used to sign their or mine name to it. Go to love the toddlers with their imaginations.
December 20th, 2007 at 7:39 pm · Link
You remind me of a time years ago when my baby (now in 5th grade) took a church report I spent DAYS on and scribbled all over it. What a nightmare!
December 21st, 2007 at 12:03 am · Link
Lauren, thanks for sharing your process. I am in the middle of writting my first book…everyone I know has always been after me to write….Little do they know how difficult it is especially to an anal retentive person such as myself…LOL
December 21st, 2007 at 8:57 am · Link
My son (who’s 3) LOVES highlighters. He doesn’t color the walls or paper though — he colors himself: face, hands, arms, whatever he can reach. I have to hide them when he comes with me to my day job.
December 21st, 2007 at 10:55 am · Link
Nephew loves highlighters, markers, and pens. We had to hide most of them away from him. He wrote on the leather couch with a ink pen. lol. Niece and nephew like to color on their arms and legs with the markers. Older niece likes to use the sharpies and we definitely have to hide those from nephew.
December 21st, 2007 at 1:35 pm · Link
Thank you for sharing your editing and revision process with us. I think it is great you have people to critique your work who will give you an honest opinion.
December 21st, 2007 at 2:17 pm · Link
As a non-writer, I think it’s fascinating to learn about your process.
December 22nd, 2007 at 7:49 pm · Link
sounds like my kiddos with the momma’s book being off limits hehe. and lol about the being distracted with something shiny. Aren’t we all
December 23rd, 2007 at 12:06 pm · Link
Jane – sure! Sometimes I find timeline errors – like it’s supposed to be months later but it can’t be because I’ve got them at the lake swimming and it should be November or something like that.
Other times, I’ll delete whole scenes because they’re meaningless or they drag the story down or they repeat info I relay elsewhere. Or I’ll add scenes to deal with a thread I left hanging.
In edits, I have gone back and added or removed scenes. Never anything that makes the story entirely something else. I do often change things from proposal to final manuscript but I don’t deviate from the overall flavor of what I sold on. If I ever felt the need to do that, I’d talk to my editor first.
December 23rd, 2007 at 12:31 pm · Link
I need sleep so badly… hiya! being good>??
December 23rd, 2007 at 6:50 pm · Link
Lauren, you sound soooo organized! I have been surfing your blogs and I love the cover of the one you’re about to release! Is it hard trying to decide what covers to use? Have a wonderful Christmas! Hugs, Crystal
December 23rd, 2007 at 7:37 pm · Link
I have to agree with crystal you sure are organized, have a happy holiday!
December 24th, 2007 at 3:57 pm · Link
Writers impress me to no end. And I don’t know how you can be both a writer and a mom too!
Happy holidays to you and yours!
December 25th, 2007 at 12:42 pm · Link
I am impressed and have great respect for all writers but you are without a doubt the most organized writer I have read.
December 27th, 2007 at 2:40 pm · Link
Got to love the kids when they are in a creative mood! LOL! When my four were little, they used to love drawing on the living room walls (behind the chairs or the couch where for a long time I didn’t know they had decorated the wall) with colored pencils.
December 28th, 2007 at 9:53 pm · Link
Great post thank you for sharing with us 🙂 You are very organized and I adore authors 🙂
December 29th, 2007 at 5:41 am · Link
My older made the mistake once of leaving her homework around downstairs when she went to bed. Her 2 younger brothers ignored all those coloring books my sister had around, of course, and had fun being creative all over her papers. She had to bring in the evidence to show the teach having no time to rewrite, and learned to put them away in her bookbag after that.
December 29th, 2007 at 6:07 am · Link
Lauren, thanks for sharing this.
December 29th, 2007 at 6:23 am · Link
Thanks for sharing! It was really interesting.
December 29th, 2007 at 6:27 am · Link
Thank you for sharing your writing process. Mine is quite similar with the exception of the scrap paper part.
I have a printer that prints both front and back. I’m cheap. I print on both sides of the paper so it reads like a book. It’s double spaced, of course. If I need more room to add anything, I just add another blank sheet to the mess–I mean manuscript 😆
Have fun writing. I know I do.
December 29th, 2007 at 6:36 am · Link
My nephew & niece always wrote on any paper that they could find, plus my niece was always writing on herself with markers!
December 29th, 2007 at 8:00 am · Link
It sounds like a labor of love and I’m really glad you do it!
December 29th, 2007 at 9:24 am · Link
I had to laugh over the hi-lighters and children. The two together are just a disaster waiting to happen. Written with experience. lol
December 29th, 2007 at 10:24 am · Link
Do you let your husband critique your work or wait until it is finished?
December 29th, 2007 at 1:11 pm · Link
So, far this is the only bunny I have seen on the blog site. Did I miss the others some where?
December 29th, 2007 at 2:28 pm · Link
It’s always interesting and amazing sometimes to hear how authors manage to get those pages written.
December 29th, 2007 at 3:13 pm · Link
December 29th, 2007 at 3:50 pm · Link
As a reader it always interests me HOW a writer gets their idea from thought to paper.
December 29th, 2007 at 4:32 pm · Link
I don’t know how anyone gets anything done with kids. My kids are now teenagers getting ready to go to college and I am so looking forward to them out. Maybe then I can get something done.
December 29th, 2007 at 4:34 pm · Link
I know what you mean about being to close to your work and missing things. Even though it makes me a little nervous, I need to have another person read my work before I even think about submitting it.
December 29th, 2007 at 4:46 pm · Link
Sometimes I write straight through. Other times I write the scene I know is coming and then start moving backwards and forwards. I do have two first readers who tell me if I am too far off track.
December 29th, 2007 at 5:36 pm · Link
Question how, and who did you pick for you crit crew? I have been trying to find some people to help me.
December 29th, 2007 at 6:39 pm · Link
Enjoyed reading about your writing/editing process. As a person who loves to read, thank you for sharing your stories.
I found one of the bunnies. 😀
December 29th, 2007 at 6:53 pm · Link
I found I bunny too. 😀 😆
I enjoyed reading about your writing/editing process and I find it interesting to know how authors do it.
December 29th, 2007 at 7:24 pm · Link
Even though you need to have revisions done to your work, I dont think that 2 of the 3 kids would be of too much help!! 😉 I found a bunny!!
December 29th, 2007 at 7:47 pm · Link
Found a bunny!!!
December 30th, 2007 at 4:52 am · Link
Wow! You amaze me with all that you can accomplish. I love to read your work but cannot fathom how you do it all with a family. Thank you for all that you do.
December 30th, 2007 at 10:24 am · Link
That’s so close to my process it’s scary. LOL. I usually ask one or two persons to give it a look, though. A whole group can get confusing! 3 say “leave it this way,” 3 say “change it that way” and 3 other say o something else.” LOL.
December 30th, 2007 at 11:27 am · Link
Great blog…and I see the bunnies!! I love it!!
December 30th, 2007 at 11:40 am · Link
You are SO organized. I have notes stuck on a huge board. Like the editing notebook idea. Snitching that one fair and square. Have been doing mine straight on the pc. Much nicer to have a “flip” referral…LOL
December 30th, 2007 at 2:15 pm · Link
Crystal – I’ve been very fortunate with the covers I’ve received so far. I fill out a form with some basic ideas and the cover artists come up with the covers and send them to me. I can honestly say I’ve only been totally horrified by two of my covers, all the others I’ve been satisfied to totally thrilled with!
December 30th, 2007 at 2:20 pm · Link
Everyone, thanks for the holiday wishes!
Tianna – It has to look relatively uncluttered or I get distracted. Double sided, I can see through and it bugs my eye because I’m odd. I like one inch margins and so far, the scrap paper thing works well. Once the 3 year old starts school, I’ll have to try something else, LOL!
Joye – I don’t let anyone see my manuscripts until I’ve finished with two drafts. My husband is welcome to read my stuff at any time but he’s not a romance fan, LOL. He has read my books but usually after they come out. He has critted specific scenes here and there for me and he’s a huge help when I’m plotting and I get stuck.
Mary Ann – having at least one other set of eyes is hugely important. I don’t take all the suggestions my crit partners and beta readers make. But I certainly take them all seriously, even if I don’t use them.
December 30th, 2007 at 2:29 pm · Link
Suzanne – Anya Bast and Megan Hart are my critters. I trust them both immensely and respect their writing as well.
For me it was about several things – I wanted people who were like me in the process. That is, they’re both blunt and point out things without a lot of fluffing (heh). I can take criticism, I don’t want someone to just say, “it’s great” because while it’s good for my ego, I want to make the book better.
So I wanted people I knew would tell me straightforward what they thought.
Anya and Megan also write in the same genre. I’m sure there are dissenting opinions on this point but IMO, it’s hugely important to have crit partners who understand the genre you’re writing. From an author’s standpoint and a reader’s standpoint. There are things in each genre that need to be done. My husband makes suggestions that are great for Sci Fi but I can’t go around killing the husband at the very end!
Also – Anya and Megan are great because they both write very differently so they see different things in the manuscript and address them differently. Having crit partners who write very differently can really help you overall. If you choose someone who writes just exactly like you, you’ll miss things.
Lastly, you know it’s about trust. I trust my friends to want me to write the best book I can. I trust them to tell me when something sucks and also, I trust them enough to ask for help brainstorming if I can’t figure a way through.
There are people out there who like to say how “tough” they are as critters when really, they’re just mean. I don’t need that. I need constructive criticism
As for *where* to find good crit partners? Well, through your local writer’s organization perhaps? On your publisher’s author loop is another good place. If you write romance, your local RWA chapter or a speciality chapter is a good place.
If you find a great fit, keep it! If it doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to move on either.