Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get out your dancing shoes

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Let the trumpets and cymbals sound. Tell the band to strike up a tune because we are having a party. I am celebrating the completion of my new novel. Hurray! And at the end of this post I plan on giving something away to complete the celebration. So stay tuned.

Writing this manuscript was a great deal of fun and now comes the real work – editing it. There are a lot of schools of thought on how and when you should edit. And since I tend to like to try new things will admit that I’ve probably tried them all.

There are a lot of writers who actually edit as they write their first draft. Susan Elizabeth Philips is one who edits what she wrote the previous day before getting down to writing new pages. That way the story gets cleaned up and the characters are fresh in her head when she gets down to business. It might take longer to get the manuscript written, but hey – it is ready to go out the door when you’re done. This one has never worked for me, but Susan’s writing rocks. Which clearly means I am doing something wrong.

A lot of people say that once a book is finished you should stick it in a drawer for a couple of weeks so you have enough distance that you can look at your work with a fresh eye. This was one of those things my high school English teachers always told me to do. And hey – it sounded great, but during my high school years I worked best under pressure. As in midnight before the paper is due at 8AM kind of pressure. (And yes for all my college friends – I confess. I did this in college, too.) Fresh eyes? HA! I was happy to settle for slightly reddened eyes. But while I didn’t use this much in my early years, I feel it has huge merit and I’ve used it more than once to what I hope was great success. Distance between you and your writing means you’ll actually see what is written on the page instead of what you intended to write.

Which brings me to method number three. This won’t come as a surprise to my family or my friends, but I am kind of the impatient sort. If there is work to be done, I want to do it NOW! Which is why I ask (beg, bribe, threaten) my fabulous beta reader and wonderful husband to read along as I write. (Yes, our marriage survives this, which is a testament to his patience or my cooking – you can decide which.) He makes notes on the manuscript which gives me a starting point when I go back and start revising. Which tends to be the day after I finish the book. And yes – you guessed it. I have already started revising my current manuscript. I can’t help myself.

Which way is best? You tell me. Is there one editing plan that works better for you than another? Did you revise one way in high school and change your style in college? I really want to know.

And for all of you still reading this post – I have an extra ARC copy of SKATING OVER THE LINE (Sept. 27, St. Martin’s Minotaur) that I am going to give away to one commenter today! Please leave your name and e-mail address in the comments line so I can get a hold of the winner. I’ll do the drawing after midnight so get your comments in before then.

Thanks for celebrating with me.


  1. My only recent experience with editing is with a manual for work. I'd put off doing it until I was "in the mood" and then I'd enjoy making revisions. Solicited comments from the boss and co-workers. However, due to vacations and being short-staffed, having a meeting to accept the changes and adopt the final version keeps getting delayed.

    But hey, I'm just here cause I like winning stuff. :-)


  2. Hey, Joelle! Congratulations on finishing the book! That must be a great feeling during these torrid summer days. I am a revise-as-I-go kind of girl but not sure if this is the best plan. Sometimes I feel that this bogs me down and keeps me from writing new stuff. I'm going to try not to do that with latest project but we'll see how long that lasts. Maggie

  3. Welcome Joelle! Congratulations on finishing the book!!

    Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

  4. Welcome to The Stiletto Gang, Joelle. I look forward to reading more about you.


  5. Congrats on finishing up the manuscript, Joelle! I'm a little bit behind you, still toiling away (but hoping to be done this week). I'm an "edit as I go" girl like SEP. I tell myself, "just write rough and get 'er done," but I can't do it. I have to tweak and tweak and tweak. I guess we all learn what works for us, and that's what works for me. I've posted about your ARC giveaway on my FB pages! What a nice thing to do!

  6. I, as an avic reader, am always excited to find a new author. I have now bookmarked this site for daily use. I am anxious to get into the "skating series". Thak you Joelle, for allowing me to find you!

    Vicky Daniels

  7. Yay!!! I still think it's fun to have found another Joelle. :D


  8. Good post! I'm not done until I've read each chapter to my critique group--then I go over it once again before sending it on to my editor.

    And welcome.


  9. Would love the chance to win a copy of this book, thank you!!

  10. Congratulations on the book! Cannot wait to read it. Really enjoyed the 1st one.

    Andrea McCrary

  11. Hey girlie Hope you are having a fantastic day:) btw...pick me pick me...hahaha

  12. I am the impatient sort, too; I might be able to make it a week before I start editing. MIGHT. I edit as I go, but sometimes I don't catch things, such as words I forgot to put in. My ab-fab beta readers find those for me. Amazingly, sometimes even the (mostly useless) GrammarCheck in MS Word finds some things for me.

    Your books sound fabulous, and congratulations on completing another!


  13. Welcome, Joelle! I think every one of your methods for editing is a worthwhile way to go. Admittedly, I dabble in all of them!

    Love your cover, it's adorable!

  14. I write reports for my job and I prefer to edit/revise a day after I wrote it. This gives me a fresh respective.

    I would love to win an ARC.


  15. I loved the first one and Im sure this one will be even better! Cant wait to read it!!!

  16. Congratulations on finishing the book. I haven't had to edit anything since high school and I was a write it the night before kind of person too. But I am convinced we all were in high school. ;) I can hardly wait for the new skating book to come out.

    Brianne Pendley

  17. Congrats on finishing the first draft! Shh, don't tell anyone but I like editing: smoothing, tightening, layering. It uses a different part of my brain.

    Can't wait to read your next one!

    cpperkins at gmail.com

  18. Well considering that most of the writing I do anymore is meeting minutes, I tend to be a edit as I go, but those are semi-short! I hope you have a great launch for this book too!

    Pamela Weber

  19. Thanks for the insight into your editing process! It's always interesting to hear what works for other writers.

  20. I too, am a most impatient writer and person in general. I recently finished my first MS. It was a two-year ordeal of learning the ropes.

    Now, as I start my second, I look back on all I've learned.

    Patience. Patience is key in this business and I started at a negative in that department. I wanted to be a published author yesterday.

    I queried that First MS over a year ago, when I thought it was ready. It sooo wasn't.

    My knowledge, and most importantly the application, of the craft has grown by leaps and bounds since then. I edit and revise as I go, it's the OCD in me. But I learned how important it was to step away. I did that for two months and it made a world of difference.

    My first MS is now out there in queryland and I am typing away at my second, revising and editing as I go.

    charli555 at comcast dot net

  21. Congrats on finishing the novel. While my writing is mostly blogging (that writing, isn't it?) I tend to write best under pressure and at the last minute. Not how I want to write but it always seems to work out that way. If I had to write anything of length I'd probably edit as I wrote.

    Looking forward to reading your new book.

    undermyappletree at gmail dot com

  22. I do a bit of both in terms of editing. I try to finish a full draft of the work first, but if I can't get a section out of my head then I go back and edit it. It's nice to work on word processing software for that reason! Can you imagine going back to typewriters?

    Congrats on the finished draft!
    Tara Mikhalyeva

  23. Congratulations! That is a great acomplishment. : ) I go with option 3 and have your husband read it. I did a little writing for a magazine contest and told a personal story about growing up. It was great to have husband's feedback and really helped me tell a better story. Oh, I'm with you on the testament to marriage and the cooking! : )

    Anjali 1davis.family@sbcglobal.net

  24. Congrats! I am not fond of editing, I never know quite how to put those finishing touches on the ms. Too often I get new ideas and want to rewrite the whole thing. Not a good idea! Sherry

  25. I'm halfway through the edits of my current WIP, Forever Young-Blessing or Curse. After two of my own edits, my manuscript when to my editor, and low and behold, she found many ways to make the manuscript better. Once I've started editing again,I've found even more ways to do it. Sometimes it takes a fresh eye to get the ball rolling, and make my mind operate the way it should.

    I'm hoping to get back to my editing again today. I'm relaxing a bit from cleaning the basement after the flooding here. People say to include that in a book, which I just might do!

    Morgan Mandel

  26. First of all, can I just say I can't wait for "Skating Over the Line"?! The first book in the series was so wonderful, the second should be just as good if not better. Thanks for keeping them coming, Joelle.

    I think I tend to edit in a combination of ways. Before I start writing each time, I do tend to peruse what I've written before, and I'll tweak here and there. Major edits I do after the entire mss is done, altough I'm not always patient enough to do the 'put it in a drawer' thing! And then of course editing pregallyes and galleys is a whole different story...


  27. My editing tends to be as I'm going, plus a read-through when I'm done writing. Of course, this is for short stuff, not even novella length, like blog posts and papers. For my one big 30 page research paper I often would used the techniques I already mentioned, in addition to coming back to a section from a week or so earlier to go over it again, so sort of a combination of the 'in a drawer' and 'as you go' styles.


  28. Hi Joelle!

    Congrats on completing your manuscript AND jumping back in with edits. I tend to edit as I go along, and then make passes through the whole manuscript. I'm just now starting Book 2, so I don't know if I'll need to edit this story in the ground like I did the first one. Lordy, I hope not! :)

    Congrats again!

  29. Pick me since we are related! ;)
    It's interesting to hear how you edit since I have found the same type of grammatical error in the last four books I have read. I also found several typos. It always amazes me that those get through to the final copy.


  30. Congratulations on finishing the book. I loved the first one, I can't wait to read the 2nd. So tell the publishers to hurry up and get it out so we can read it, or like you are doing here give one away. LOL

  31. I'm not much of a writer (as our H.S. teachers can attest to) but I find this all fascinating! I guess I never thought about all the different ways to go about editting!! I can tell you though I'm excited to read this next book! The first one was great and I can't wait!!
    Shannon Johnson

  32. Hey Joelle, I was always a best under pressure kind of person, too, so I did my editing the same way you did in high school. As a teacher, I have tried teaching my students to edit their writing "the way its supposed to be done" - but they are never interested - kids these days think that once they are done, they should be DONE. I did have one student who swore by reading the paper backwards, one sentence at a time, to catch grammatical errors and ommitted words without skimming his work and missing mistakes by reading what he meant instead of what he wrote. Several of my other students tried it, and they liked it. (I tried that method once, and it drove me crazy!) Anyway, I'm looking forward to your new book - enjoyed the last one and can't wait for the new one! :)

  33. My writing id usually not for publication, I tend to rattle on which automatically means edit edit edit. My usual style is to rattle re-read and go on. Then when everythng is finished I go back and edit for real. Congrats on your new book - way to go young lady. Hugs! Oh interesting topic!

  34. Good job Joelle! Now the fun part starts. I'm learning to like rewriting the more of it I have to do.

  35. Jeannine LeonhartJuly 26, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    When I write, I tend to ramble - just as I do when I speak, so editing is an ongoing thing. Joelle, you may have different methods at different points in your career(s), but you have always strived for perfection. Congratulations on completing yet another book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

  36. I'm with you on the whole "last minute is best" writing style. My best term papers were written at 4am on the day they were due. And sticking it in a drawer? Forget about it! It would haunt my nightmares and scream at me until I made irreversible changes that ruined the whole manuscript.

    On that note, everyone is different. And unfortunately you won't find what works for you until you're lying on the floor in misery and crying in your own pen ink after one of these methods did not work for you. The next day you dust yourself off and pick up a different method. While you're reinventing yourself you decide to learn Swahili and take up baking. But that's a different topic ;)

  37. I had my son pull a number out of a hat, which was a great idea until I had to chase him around the room to get it back:) Congratulations to Leslie! I'll be sending you an e-mail and the ARC of SKATING OVER THE LINE:)