by Rayka Mennen, guest blogger and author of Enchanted Destiny
My new release Enchanted Destiny went through several revisions and I got to thinking about the editing process. My critique partner, Angela Foster, and I do what she calls ‘sweeps.’ So what’s a Sweep? Think of it as making an editing pass through your manuscript but with one specific issue in mind. Like a broom, you are sweeping through your scenes. Before Angela and I started using this method, we were going through our manuscripts looking for anything and everything to fix. It was confusing, I often missed something, and I felt like I was working on the same page for weeks. So each editing pass, or in our lingo ‘sweep,’ is done looking for specific issues. My sweeps may not work for you. Why? Because we write differently and have different strengths and weaknesses. So here’s a systematic way to think about making these editing sweeps relevant to you by following 3 essential steps.
Step 1: Make a list of Sweeps: Identify your weaknesses and give each of them a Sweep. It’s important to be self-aware, and if you’ve been writing for a while and have received feedback, you know you’re great at some things and others, not so much. Make a list of issues to identify in each sweep based on what you already know about your writing or the feedback you received from a critique partner or editor.
For example, I know I don’t do so well with emotion in my first couple of drafts. So one Sweep for me is to go through my manuscript looking for places where I can add emotional punches. Doing this in one protagonist’s POV scenes first, then another’s might help you stay in character. For example, your alpha male deals with emotion differently that your heroine (alpha or otherwise). So depending on your book and your writing, you may end up with a list of 3 Sweeps or 8. It will be worth it.
Step 2: Time Line: Give yourself a time line. It’s easy to spend days and days doing edits. So my critique partner and I set up a schedule ahead of time. 2 days for Sweep 1; 1 day for Sweep 2, etc. Sometimes, you can combine a couple of issues into a sweep but for major ones, stick to one issue per sweep.
Step 3: Step away: Put the mouse down slowly, now step away from the computer. It’s okay, your baby’s not going anywhere. Some distance from your manuscript will help you come at it with fresh eyes. You’ll be amazed at the things you’ll notice that totally escaped you before.
Here’s how I made this work for me in in my new book, Enchanted Destiny, about destined soul mates and their journey to happiness. I went through four different editing sweeps.
Sweep 1: World building. (I have trouble with this because I assume the reader is in my head. What do you mean you don’t know magic comes with a price in this world?)
Sweep 2: Dialogue. Making sure that my main characters didn’t all talk like each other, use the same curse words, etc.
Sweep 3: Emotional hits. Where could I add a little more emotion or a visceral reaction to really show what my character is going through?
Sweep 4: Rhetorical devices. This one of the techniques I learned in Margie Lawson’s immersion master class on deep editing. It adds a rhythm to your writing, helps you emphasize a point – great tool.
Do you have special tricks that help you in the editing process?