Editing doesn’t mean reviewing it once and calling it done. In fact, it’s best if you edit multiple times.

The first time I edit, I try to look at the big picture. I pay attention to ebb and flow of the story or essay and make note of the push and pull. Is there too much going on? Is there enough going on to keep it from being boring? How much is too much? Did I miss the big picture? What are the goals of this section (regarding characters or of the paragraph)?

Holding onto the idea that editing is a one-and-done type of process will cause more harm to a work than most people realize.

There are two main types of editing: macro and micro. Macro editing is looking at the big picture and following the train of thought for the scene or paragraph and how it all plays into the work as a whole, this is when you’d focus on consistency, themes, and dialogue (if you have any). Micro editing focuses on the little details such as grammar and punctuation. It is also something to put off until the very end, which can be extremely difficult. Train your brain to focus on the big picture and ignore the grammar until the end. It takes practice, but anything worth doing does.

For those of you wondering, editing and revising are not the same thing, but we’ll talk about revising another day.

Hold true to your schedule and whatever boundaries you set for yourself. The important thing is to find a process that works for you and to stick to it the best you can. Editing is a process and it takes time, but it will be worth it in the end.

Yours in Literature,
Mary Knutson

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