You’ve got your first draft finished, but what next? We spoke to editor Pamela Hewitt about the best things to bear in mind when revising your work.
- Editing is about options rather than rules. Whether you’re editing your own writing or someone else’s, you’re free to change anything from specific words to the way ideas are expressed, right up to the shape of the story.
- Most drafts contain clutter. It might be straight repetition or an assertion of something better left implied. Don’t be afraid to delete.
- Language may elicit anger or hope in the case of a political speech. A love letter is designed to make the reader feel affection for the writer. Advertisers choose words to make the product irresistible. A bedtime story winds down at the end, helping the child fall asleep. Judicious editing can alter the emotional temperature of a passage.
- Structure doesn’t have to be linear, nor is it set. Beginnings, transitions and endings are crucial. A dull opening passage may lose the audience but that arresting image, buried in chapter three, could make a brilliant and engaging start.
- When you sit in the editor’s chair, you become director of your own film. You can move characters around onstage or kill them off. You can introduce love, conflict or intrigue. Nothing is final until you say ‘Cut!’
Learn more about the art of editing with Pamela Hewitt in her upcoming course Professional Editing. The course will take place over 6 x Wednesday evenings: 21, 28 February; 7, 14, 21, 28 March, 6:30-9:30pm. Book here.