Editing Strategy For The Red Pen Impaired Or The Lingering Editing Guru

Those of you who know me well, know that I live for the blank page. I thrive on that first part of the writing process that allows me to create and surprise even myself with its direction.

Editing on the other hand? Sigh. That’s like a root canal with no Novocaine.

There are those of you who live to edit, but don’t check out yet. Maybe you spend forever editing one scene and struggle to let go of your manuscript at the end of the edits. The following strategy might work for you as well.

Today I woke up tired of editing and decided I needed to come up with a new strategy to make things go more quickly. Being a brainstorm nut, this was a fun way to start the day. I came up with an idea and test drove it. I LOVE IT! You might find it helpful, too.

RPI Editing Strategy:

*Write a list of all your scenes. Chapter and few word description. This will help you plan the amount of time necessary to do the first edit of your manuscript and be able to check things off as you go.


Chapter 1:       Scene A: Couple meet at funeral       Scene B:  Couple argue at luncheon

*Determine the amount of time you should need to edit a scene. This may fluctuate a bit with each person. But don’t let yourself ruminate on one scene for too long. I recommend 30min. to 1 hour.

*Take the time per scene and multiply it times the number of scenes in your book. This gives you a look at how long it will actually take if you focus and work hard on your edits. It will give you a goal. So, if I see that my book has 80 scenes and it takes 30 min. per scene to edit that means it would take me 40 hours to do the scene edits on my book. (You may still have some overarching edits and line edits to do, but this is the scene edit component.)

*Set a goal for when you plan to be finished with your edits. If I have 40 hours of editing to do, then I can look at it and determine how long that might take with my schedule. Let’s say I can put in two hours a day. My edits could be done in 20 days of editing. Determine your current goals and push yourself just a bit when setting your goal for a challenge. It will give you experience for meeting deadlines.

*Then each day when you sit down to write, set the timer for each scene to the time you planned for each scene. Keep an eye on your progress. Over time you should get better at this process.

*Evaluate and celebrate. Along the way, evaluate your goals to see if they are realistic. If you need to adjust them, do so. Celebrate by checking off the scenes you have completed.

What strategies do you use to help you with editing?



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “Editing Strategy For The Red Pen Impaired Or The Lingering Editing Guru

  1. Robin says:

    Oooh, I’m so glad you shared this. This sounds like a really fun way to do the scene edit so that it actually gets done and SEE the progress made.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    It sure helps keep me more focused and less overwhelmed with the process. It also helps me set more realistic goals. Thanks, Robin.

  3. Love this Michelle. I use Scrivener, so I already have my chapters on note cards, and can even have note cards for each scene. I like the idea of setting a timer. lol And I’m one of those people who would rather edit that write that dratted first draft.

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    LOL! Well, you can set a timer for first draft scenes, too. But I’m glad this is helpful, Pat!

  5. Melissa Tagg says:

    I’m with Pat! I love to edit. I love taking what’s already on the page and sprucing it up. The blank page scares me a little…but it’s an exhilarating kind of fear.

    Anyway, I’m definitely a scheduler and that helps with my editing. I schedule what I’m going to edit and when. I’m a big believer in MBT’s SHARP acronym, so that’s always the first thing I focus on in editing scene by scene. And like you, timers help me out sooo much! 🙂

    Great tips, as always, Michelle!!

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    SHARP is a fabulous method of editing! You editing guru’s are a mystery to me, but I applaud you!

  7. I would just as soon give someone else my MS and go on to a new one then sit down and edit it! I’m with you Michelle. (Can you tell I’m a pants-ter – how ever they spell that?) I think the hardest part for me is not rewriting and rewriting things. There are so many ways a scene can play out.

  8. Michelle Lim says:

    I can understand the desire to keep writing. I am also what I call a purposeful pantser. LOVE THE ROUGH DRAFT!

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