Editing As You Write: The Pros And Cons

Editing as you write your flash fiction, short story, or novel.Do you find yourself editing as you write? Do you prefer to keep the writing and editing processes separate? All writers have an opinion about how and when to edit your work-in-progress. Some storytellers let their writing flow uninterrupted, leaving a trail of spelling errors and typos in their wake. Other writers prefer careful editing of their piece after each writing session (or page, or paragraph, or sentence), examining each scene or chapter carefully and fine tuning it into a work of written art.

I use a mix of both techniques. I can’t stand looking at the red squiggly lines appearing below my errors, so I quickly backspace and fix my glaring errors while writing a scene. I even enter my characters’ names into my dictionary, so I don’t have a messy document. However, larger changes, such as carving up a scene, I save until much later on. That much reworking would knock my writer’s hat off my head, leaving only my editor’s hat.

Pros of Consistently Editing

  1. You’ll finish with a more polished manuscript, which will require less editing after it is completed.
  2. You can keep track of how your plot, subplot, and story arc are progressing, and rely less on your memory.
  3. If you find a major plot hole that requires a complete restructuring of your story, you can fix it immediately and not find yourself at a dead end later.
  4. Your characters will be less likely to wander off on tangents that are unrelated to the story at hand.
  5. The story will have much more continuity, and you won’t have to search to change every instance of an incorrect fact.
  6. Grammatical errors are much easier to spot when reading smaller chunks of a story.

Cons of Constantly Editing

  1. The flow of the story will be harder to maintain when you are stopping and starting repeatedly.
  2. The critical side of you required to edit properly can bring your mood down, draining your motivation.
  3. You may pick apart a scene to pieces, so that it falls apart and is no longer usable in your story.
  4. You may forget your place in the story, and stop writing much sooner than you intended.
  5. Your daily word count may be lower, and your progress will be harder to track.
  6. If you find a problem that requires major work, you may not know how to fix it, which will halt you in your tracks.

So what’s the verdict? Each writer has their own writing and editing style. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. As long as it is actually working, then keep it up! If not, go over the pros and cons, and decide for yourself.

Weigh in on the editing debate! Which method do you find yourself doing most often? Do you have more pros or cons to add to the list? Share your editing experiences here.

Photo Credit: Nic McPhee

5 Strategies for Reviewing Success

5 Strategies for Reviewing Success as a Freelance Writer

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” – Quote Garden – Joe Paterno

In my last post about reviewing (Becoming a Reviewer: Where to Begin), I shared 5 tips with you on how to get started.

Today, I’d like to share with you…

5 Strategies for Reviewing Success

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Always, always tell the truth – even if you find a negative aspect (or several!) in the product or system you’re reviewing. This is most important, especially if you’re a blogger or the author of a review column, etc. Your audience needs to know they can trust your judgment. Your reputation is of value. Your readers’ experiences are of value. Don’t be the cause of them spending their hard-earned money on products you highly recommend, but aren’t in keeping with your rave review. Keep it real.
  2. Be thorough. Highlight details and clue readers in on everything you can think of to share – including fun facts or solid information about the company’s history, team and/or owner(s). Saying something like “oh, I loved the product… it was great” is not enough to provide a solid foundation for someone who is truly interested in purchasing the item you’re mentioning.
  3. Follow up with readers. If comments are allowed where you posted your review, try to answer readers’ questions or at least direct them to someone who can. Sometimes we forget to include something they may want to know. (We can’t think of everything!)
  4. Don’t forget the pros and the cons. Readers want to know both the good and the bad. If it’s a food or beverage, be sure to include how it tastes and/or smells, how appetizing it may be, how much it costs, and even list a few ways they might introduce this product to their usual meals or snacks, etc.
  5. Openly thank the company/individual who sent you the product(s) to review. They not only deserve the recognition for their generosity, they deserve a thank you for taking the time to acknowledge you as a reviewer and give you the opportunity to sample their product, free of cost.

And, yes, I absolutely try to adhere to these strategies when I write reviews. I’ve grown and learned along the way, so I have written reviews in the past that were short and sweet. Each time I’ve written a new review, though, I’ve built upon what I learned from writing the previous one. And, so writing reviews is not only becoming easier for me, they’ve become so much more enjoyable as I pass on to the reader not only my thoughts, but valuable, honest information, with integrity and a genuine heart.

Do you write reviews? Are you thorough? Will you try to be more thorough from now on? Do you think it’s wrong to be paid for reviews? Do you think it’s wrong to receive free products for review? And what do you think about the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling for bloggers? Has it kept you from writing reviews? Or, are you just more cautious? I’ve always been upfront and openly thanked the sponsoring company who sent me products to review – I’m glad!

And stay tuned… more tips are on the way! Is there anything in particular you’d like to know? Share in the comments!

Did you enjoy this article? Feel free to visit the other articles Michele has written for Writer’s Round-About–or contact her to write for you.

Image credit: lockstockb

Seat of the Pants vs. Planning (Part Two)

Two writing techniques, “Seat of the Pants” and “Planning”, expose writers to a wealth of opportunities depending on what works best for their individual preferences. As with all methods, there are advantages and disadvantages. One system will work for a particular writer but may not work for another. Finding a way to write (that works for you) involves a great deal of trial and error but finding your method and developing it, is the key toward successful productivity and an enjoyable writing experience.

“Seat of the Pants” AKA The Pantser
One technique some writers prefer is thought of writing from the seat of the pants. These writers start with a character or rough story concept and leap into the writing. Most of the time, these writers focus on the linear creation of their novel, from page one through to ‘the end’ but others find their creativity focused in random scenes which they put together like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Planning” AKA The Planner
These writers tend to spend time planning long before they begin to write. They get to know their characters, brainstorm about them, and become familiar with what they expect from their protagonists. Planners usually outline their story. They know their theme and story-worthy problem. They know how the book will end and they know at least the major steps on the path to getting there.

Which Are You?

  1. The Freedom to Just Write
    • Pantser Pro: Writing from the seat of the pants gives writers the freedom to let there imagination roam.
    • Pantser Con: The uncertainty and lack of direction can lead to writer’s block.
    • Planner Pro: Planners proceed with more confidence because they know where they’re going and they know what steps to take to get there.
    • Planner Con: These writers need time to focus on where they are and what each scene needs to accomplish to tie into the scenes around it.
  2. The Adventure of Discovery
    • Pantser Pro: Writers enjoy the journey of discovery, watching the story, plot and characters reveal themselves as they write.
    • Pantser Con: The plot can meander without purpose, be virtually non-existent, or not contain enough conflict, emotion and connection to be story-worthy.
    • Planner Pro: Planners have a story outline and include intricate details long before they begin writing. They have the opportunity to weave vital clues and connectivity into the plot from the first page of the first draft.
    • Planner Con: Already knowing the significant details can sometimes lead to a sense of boredom.
  3. The Ebb and Flow of Creativity
    • Pantser Pro: Writers can often experience extended periods of creativity that lead to pages of finished writing in a single sitting.
    • Pantser Con: These bursts are usually followed by inaction and stagnation.
    • Planner Pro: These writers often find it easier to find their flow. They tend to schedule time to write and get into a grove, developing the habit which allows them to write what they need to write when they choose to do so.
    • Planner Con: The structure and routine developed with careful planning can become repetitive or restrictive giving writers pressure to perform which often leads to writer’s block.
  4. Linear or Random Method
    • Pantser Pro: Seat of the pants writing lends itself well to both linear and ‘out of order’ creation that gives writers flexibility in both time and scene focus.
    • Pantser Con: Stories can feel piece-meal or disjointed if not carefully rewritten and well edited after the first draft.
    • Planner Pro: With their outline in hand, writers can choose which scene to write when and have the knowledge of the scenes that will eventually surround it to weave it into the story.
    • Planner Con: Planning can feel rigid. Planners may avoid following an instinctive urge to deviate from the outline and feel obligated to write a specific scene, even when it is not flowing for them.
  5. The Creation of Real Character
    • Pantser Pro: Seat of the pants writers enjoy discovering their characters as they develop slowly through the story and run less risk of revealing too much too soon or too little that readers never grow close to the primary characters.
    • Pantser Con: Sometimes, not knowing your characters can leave them without the depth needed to keep readers interested.
    • Planner Pro: Planning writers are familiar with their characters, know them deeply and predict their responses to situations. They often feel like dear friends and can develop a strong connection.
    • Planner Con: These writers run the risk of revealing too much or too little of the characters to readers, are so close to their characters that it becomes hard to “do what needs to be done” if the plot calls for their demise or even become candid, taking their character for granted or simply get tired of them.
  6. Structure and Discipline
    • Pantser Pro: This method allows writers to write when they feel inspired which often makes the process of writing much more enjoyable.
    • Pantser Con: Lack of structure and discipline can lead to an inability to plan ahead for deadlines or focus on other writing projects.
    • Planner Pro: Planning writers often feel a great deal of confidence. They know before they begin dedicating weeks to writing the first draft that they have a solid, worthy story to write. They also tend to be the sort of people who can structure their time and discipline themselves for regular writing.
    • Planner Con: Rigid structure and a logical approach may stifle creativity.

Do you know other pros and cons of the two techniques? What have you found works for you and what doesn’t? How do you deal with the disadvantages of your technique?

Have Your Say!