Monday, September 18, 2017

Lisa Hill: The Editing Process

Visit the RNA Facebook group or browse on social media and one of the most talked about topics amongst writers is – editing! We all have our favourite ways to write and edit our work and it can be interesting to find other views and perhaps use a snippet or two to help with our own writing. Today on the RNA blog we welcome author, Lisa Hill. Here Lisa explains her experiences with the editing process. Welcome, Lisa.

For those of you who know me, you’ll know I’ve not long graduated from the NWS. I was a member
of the scheme from 2010 – 2016 and in that time benefited from some thorough reports full of useful advice. What they didn’t contain, however, is a hand to hold with my downfall; the editing process. Having undergone the process with a professional editor in the past year, I thought it would be helpful to give those, like me, who struggle with editing an insight into perfecting your manuscript:

1. Take yourself out of the manuscript
Your first draft is your creation. It’s where you get to have all the conversations you want your characters to have with each other, let them go off on their adventures, really let your imagination flow. Now it’s time to get a grip on reality and that inevitably means getting tough. You might have the funniest scene which you absolutely love but if it has no relevance to moving the story forward, do you really need it?

2. Start a Novel Log
For me, a novel log was a revelation and I actually started using one from the beginning in my latest novel. Using a log you can diarise what’s happening in your novel and it’s so useful to refer back to. I use a page for each of the following:
·      Main Characters, including mini-bios of their age, appearance, main motivation etc.
·      Cast of Characters, including every character which has a name. This is most useful to look back on, for example, if you have a waitress that gets an odd mention and you can’t remember what you’ve called her.
·      A list of house, restaurants, pubs, shops etc, fictional and actual places.
·      A list of geographical places, again both fictional and actually in existence.
·      A list of songs, films, books and trade names.
·      A time-line. Probably the most important of all in the editing process; if you keep a note of dates and what occurs during your novel on these days, not only will it help you in remaining consistent, it will also assist you in deciding if you need to add time (e.g. are your hero and heroine ‘getting it on’ too quickly?) or condense.

3. Don’t try to edit everything at once
Something I was very guilty of. It might seem like a laborious task, however, the more times you read through your novel, the more times you will pick up errors. I had a manuscript where I had revealed twice (very dramatically) to the anti-hero that one of my heroines was dying! I now break my edits down into the following revisions:
·      Rewriting: The first round of editing is to go through your manuscript and identify what you can do without, what needs adding in (to reinforce your characters’ motivations) or where the sequence of events needs moving around.
·      Editing: On the second round, focus on actual scenes; where you need to cut a conversation short and lose words or lengthen one to add words and create tension.
·      Grammar & Spelling:  Often known as line edits, your final round of edits should be to comb through for grammar and spelling mistakes and to properly polish.
One final tip is that I find uploading my manuscript to my kindle for a final read helps me to identify any left-over niggles. Although if you are like me (and it is probably the creative in all of us) I am usually still agonising over certain lines in crucial scenes.

I wish you luck in getting your manuscript to the next level of publication and please don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you have anything you’d like to ask about my blog post.

About Lisa:
Lisa grew up in the village of Bussage, in the Cotswolds until she returned to Cheltenham as a teen.  She is married to her very own hero, Matt, and has three sons, Hamish, Archie and Laurence.  Her first encounter of a romance author was chats over the garden wall between her father, Godfrey, and Mrs Cooper from the neighbouring village of Bisley.  It came as a surprise in later life to find that Mrs Cooper was in fact Jilly Cooper!  Lisa’s writing inspiration now comes from other Cotswolds authors including Jill Mansell and Katie Fforde.

Lisa writes contemporary romance with a light-hearted tone.  What interests her most is people, their interactions, emotions and relationships. Lisa is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme and attributes this supportive and informative scheme to her winning the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition 2016 with her debut novel Meet Me at Number Five.

Links:
Twitter: @lisahillie

3 comments:

Mollie Blake said...

Thanks for sharing this and good luck with your new book x

Rae Cowie said...

Thanks for the fab tips, Lisa. I'm finding my way around Scrivener at the moment, which has helpful functions which act in a similar way to keeping a novel log book. Also, it offers the ability to split the screen, which can be useful when working with two drafts. Good luck with Book 2. xx

Adrienne Vaughan said...


Super tips Lisa, and lots of timely reminders for this author at this point in time! If you take my meaning. Masses of love and luck with the new one. Adrienne X