How Do You Edit a Book?

Needle by AMagill

Needle by AMagill / CC BY 2.0

Ug. I just wrote a scene that I’ve already written. The new version of the scene fits better into the edited version of the story, but I know I’ve lost some aspects of the original. Of course, I didn’t remember the original scene until after I’d completed the new one. And since I’ve done this before, I’m afraid it’s going to become a recurring problem.

So, how do you edit? Not the minutia of editing. I’m wondering more about the physical aspect of it. After I completed Julia‘s rough draft, I opened a new document and started writing. In the beginning of draft one, I copied some scenes from the rough draft, pasted them into the new doc and edited from there. I like the wide open white space. Working within the rough draft felt like it could be claustrophobic.

In another story in the editing process, I’m telling two, intertwined stories. For  draft 1 (I count them: rough draft, draft 1, draft 2, etc. … is that right?), I separated the two stories, each in a different document so that I could read them as individual stories to make sure they made sense and flowed alone. Then, I brought them back together. So, draft 2 will look at them together again…but that’s after Julia.

So, when I looked at the separated stories, I looked at them as whole stories in near-original form. No new document with wide open white space. When I edited, all the parts of that story were there…the good, bad and ugly.

If all the story is there in the document I’m working in, I feel confined and that I’m more likely to rejigger what I have than write a new scene if it’s needed. But, when I move to a new doc, I seem to let already created scenes slip through my fingers. So which is better? Is one better?

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