Writer’s Workshop Chicago 2018 – Notes on Editing

Below are notes from the Writer’s Workshop 2018 talks on editing:

  • The Joy of Self-Editing: How to Hit Delete Before Your Editor Does Editing – Cynthia Ruchti
  • Three Stages of Editing, in Questions – Lori Rader-Day, author of The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things

Sam’s Notes:

Your novel is a work in progress

  • Goal – connect to the reader at an emotional level
  • Structural edit – I don’t understand the plot
  • Line edit – I don’t understand this line
  • Copy edit – how did you misspell your name


Revision – see your story as if it was someone else reading – someone you don’t like

  • You need to look at it as if a stranger wrote it

Stages of editing

  • Pre-publication – It’s all about you and with the first novel you have all the time you need
    • Connect with other writers and get their help – help each other
    • Pay a pro – story issues – developmental editor
  • Agent searching
    • Agents may send R&R (revise and resubmit) – they are interested but send suggestions for changes that are needed first
    • Or, the agent may sign you, but suggest edits
  • Edit letter – contract signed –
    • Editor notes
  • Copy edits
    • Nitpicky things
  • Proof reading
    • Very nitpicky
  • Page proofs
    • Errors can sneak in – this is the last time Lori will ever read the novel again.
  • Post-publication
    • Fix the errors that slipped through

Important that you are the best editor of your stuff

High Level/Macro check list:

  • Are there too many characters?
  • Are all these scenes needed?
  • Time is your on- your side?
  • Write in scene – is something happen in the location

7 hacks (tools) for self-editing

  1. Plotter – let go of the plan.
  2. Pantser – Reverse outline your novel
  3. Plot and themes – write the back jacket before you even start the novel
  4. Pacing and reader interest – look for scenes that are only back story
    • Be in a scene, in a place, doing things
    • Don’t have one character alone, thinking
    • Save backstory for the second chapter
    • Act as if someone will publish your novel, but it has to be reduced by 10%
  5. The full manuscript – It’s hard to know what your novel is about until you’ve written the book
  6. Time – leave your manuscript between revisions – imagine your novel was written by someone else – someone you don’t like or really don’t know
  7. Other people – critiquing, novel swaps, join a writing group

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