As Camp NaNo comes around again I've been thinking about the stages of editing. Like writing they're different for every author, yet they also all go in the same direction; up. Here are my major steps up when editing, are they similar to yours?
Spell check – I can’t stand reading things with basic spelling and capitalization issues and it really distracts me from the real issues.
First read through – I read the whole story and take notes on issues that I see in a notebook on the side. Once the read through is done I look at my notes, prioritize my problems, and consider solutions.
Fixing the plot and pacing – Fix the top five plot related issues.
Smoothing out character development – Fix the top five character related issues.
Second read through – See if fixing those problems fixed the issues that I saw before, and see if new issues are more visible now.
Fix any other major issues – Between five and ten plot or character related issues.
Sending out to alpha readers – At this point I think it’s important to get other peoples feedback. I say alpha readers because my writing is still rough, so I find it to be the most useful to get feedback from other writers on line edits and content edits. I usually get three or four writers responses at this point.
Reading the alpha readers responses – I compile the comments into one document, get a glass of wine, and start reading. Any plot or character issue that two or three writers commented on gets put onto the top of my editing list. Spelling and grammar I fix on the spot. (This is purely for my psyche. There’s nothing better than saying one took care of 100 comments in one night.) Line edits get saved for later.
Fixing more overarching problems – Fix the top five plot and pacing related issues.
Extra smoothing of the character development – Fix the top five character related issues.
Line edits – This involves reading a lot of lines out loud, fixing any spots commented on by the alpha readers, and otherwise making sure the piece reads as smoothly as possible.
Sending out to beta readers – Send the story to three to five readers for their comments.
Any remaining fixes – Hopefully by this point there are only minor plot, character, and line edits to make.
Line edits and additional spell check - Smoothing the whole thing out and getting it ready for the big time.
Sending to an agent – Format properly and send to an agent.