Editing is an essential part of writing, a point that I hammered home on the Crime Writing Workshop I ran on Saturday. It is a critical requirement to getting published by a publishing house and is even more important if self-publishing.
Editing is an important part of an author's job. The first draft is just that, simply a first draft and many new writers make the mistake of thinking that they have completed their project i.e. the novel when in reality they have only completed the initial stage of producing a novel.
An author needs to be his or her own best critic, or should that be worse critic, when reviewing their work. I go through many drafts before sending my crime novels to my editor at my publisher, making sure it's the best it can possibly be but welcoming a fresh and critical eye over it and further edits if necessary.
I don't say that all editorial standards in all traditional publishing houses are absolutely perfect but for me I like the fact that, on a very basic level, every time I deliver a manuscript, I am auditioning for the publisher all over again even if I have a contract.
When revising and editing my crime and thriller novels here is what I ask myself:
• Why is this scene included?
• What about it will make the reader read on?
• Does it start at the right point?
• Does it end at the right point?
• Is there a good blend of narrative, description and dialogue?
On final edits I also examine wording and phrasing. I take each sentence and ask myself if it conveys what I intended it to convey. It's also essential to prune unnecessary words – e.g. George shouted angrily and to watch for phrases and words that are overused, every author has them.
Finally there is the overall balance and content of the book. Does the novel entertain and interest the reader? I sincerely hope so.
Time to get back to writing the first draft of the eighth DI Andy Horton marine mystery crime novel!