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