Why my favourite part of writing is rewriting

Jul 22, 2021 | 4 comments |

I don’t often post about my writing process because most of those who read this blog are readers, not other writers. However, having been in what some authors, me included, call the “writing and editing cave” for weeks (writing the first draft of one book and editing two others) things writerly are much on my mind.

Some authors love writing first drafts. I am not one of them.

Yet, although the first draft is often a slog, writing 70,000 to 90,000 words of a book in 1,000 to 2,000 word daily increments, once that work is done the fun starts as I shape those words into the magic of a story.

At the end of the first draft

I let the manuscript sit as long as I can (depending on contracted deadlines) because when I dive in again after time away, the story feels new and fresh.

I also print the manuscript and read it aloud because hearing the story helps me spot awkward dialogue, holes in the plot, uneven pacing (does the story move too quickly or slowly) and many other problems.

After I identify and resolve these issues, I go through multiple rounds of “on screen” edits including correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation and cutting overused words.

Structural/developmental edits

These are edits I get from my editors and some literary agents, mine included, give them too.

They’re big edits from a professional who hasn’t seen my story before.

I’ve just completed the first round of structural edits for one of the books I’m working on and, amongst other things, my editor’s comprehensive notes helped me dig deeper into characters (who they are, what they want and why), my story world (adding details to bring it more fully to life) and resolve several timeline issues.

All the rest

Copy editing, line editing and proofreading follow big edits—polishing a book to make it shine, line by line and word by word. Again, authors work with specialists through each of these phases.

A partnership

No matter how experienced, every writer needs editors.

I’m grateful to the skilled editors I work with because although it’s my name on the cover, these editors help me make my stories better and give those who spend their hard-earned money on my books the best possible reading experience.

Long before being published in fiction, I wrote and edited corporate and educational materials, and as a child I produced my own mini-newspaper. Even then, I found working with text deeply satisfying.

And today, in the early rounds of edits before anyone else sees my books, I also have help from Floppy Ears who is a gentle and non-judgmental listener for work-in-progress.

Tech Guy and English Rose indulge my “editorial obsession” too and are used to me pointing out “problems” on restaurant menus and shop signage.

So far, though, I’ve restrained myself when I spot an advertising chalkboard with an incorrect apostrophe, although it would be so easy to rub it out without anyone being the wiser… 🙂

4 Comments

  1. Anne Kinch

    Thanks, Jen. It’s very interesting for readers to understand the amount of work that a writer does to produce a finished and polished piece of work. I also admire the editors who are able to provide so many suggestions about the plot, characters, pace etc. I think sometimes people think that editors just correct grammar, sentence structure, spelling etc. which is the easy part. Looking forward to your next published book 0 I hope one comes out “in print”!

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Anne. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. And yes, so much work does go on behind the scenes before a book reaches readers. Before becoming a published author, I wasn’t truly aware of how much else is involved and indeed continue to learn new things about a book’s journey to publication.

      ‘Montana Reunion,’ my first book for Harlequin Heartwarming, will be out in January in both e-book and print (paperback) and will be widely available including via Chapters-Indigo and Amazon (it’s already available for pre-order on both platforms). I hope you enjoy it and appreciate your interest in and support of my writing. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Beth Carpenter

    I agree. The first draft is the hard slow work, and then comes the fun part of shaping it into a story.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog post, Beth. Lovely to “see” you here.

      As a fan of your books, it’s meaningful to know that we approach writing in a similar way. Happy writing & story shaping!

      Reply

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