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Pearls. They must be some of my favorite jewels, and I really have no reason why I like pearls so much other than the fact that I think they are beautiful. What surprises me about pearls is their creation. A tiny grain of annoyance is put inside an oyster's shell, and there, the oyster creates a barrier around the substance. Over time, a pearl is formed.

Writing can be that way - a tiny grain of annoyance starts the process. For some that annoyance is that - an annoyance. It begins with an idea that just won't leave. Over time the process creates a story which in turn needs to be fine tuned.

In many cases, editing is the actual process of writing. When I first started writing, most of my editing required correcting grammatical difficulties. Once edited for proper grammar, I was finished. Reading some of those stories that I wrote almost twenty years ago now is painful, though I see good stories there under the exterior.

How long should it take to edit a novel? It depends. Annoying answer, I realize. I hold a few standards for my editing.

  1. Internal, this editing takes place as I'm writing. Not a major editing process, just a read-through from the previous day's work to refresh and remember. In that initial stage, I will sometimes add, change wording around, or take out some work. This stage is just the basics so that it makes sense 24 hours later.
  2. Initial, this editing is my first major step in the editing process. At this point, I have finished the book, it's been printed, and has set for a week or two. At this point, I go through for the feel and sense. Do I like what I'm reading? Where are the slow parts? What needs to be added? Where am I lost or confused?
  3. Ideal, is what I consider my last stage of editing from the perspective that I have been editing my own story. At this point, it is as close to ideal as I can create it. To reach this point, I have probably had two or three editions between Initial and Ideal. At this point, I usually let it sit again for a few days, read through, and if I cannot see any major changes, I declare this stage finished.
  4. Incorporation, at this stage, I ask friends and family to read my book to gain their insights. I'm thankful to have a mom who was a former school-teacher, so she edits the grammar of my book. I have other friends who read it for the story. Once I take in their suggestions, I adjust, if needed, and have the book finished and ready to submit for publication.
Those are the four steps that I take, layers upon layers, to create a finished product that it beautiful to behold. In the publication process, there is more editing, but the above steps take place before I reach the submission process.

It might be different for another author, but I find that this works out well for me.


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