Editing doesn’t just mean to fix your comma errors and check your spelling. It doesn’t just mean making sure you don’t have any run-on sentences. Editing involves looking at your whole piece of work and making sure that it makes sense.
When I began editing my web series, I printed out all 118 pages and read through the entire thing, correcting the grammar usage and spelling errors that I found.
I added dialogue. I took some away. Mostly, though, I kept everything the same. I didn’t change anything around. I didn’t move episodes. But when it came time to share my work with others, I was shocked when they found it hard to follow.
I had completely ignored an important rule of editing: I had not made sure my story made sense. Before you start correcting the small stuff in your own work, look at the big picture. Look at that over-arcing idea that you wanted to express. Did you do it? Or did you just tell a nice story that has no backbone to it at all?
If it is the latter, don’t sweat it. There’s still time to make sure that your idea is there.
A trick that I have used in the past is to see the plot physically laid out in front of me. Honestly, this has helped me almost more than I’d like to admit.
First, separate your work into easy to manage sections. These could be into scenes, chapters, episodes, moments, whatever works best for your story. I broke my web series into scenes.
Then, condense those scenes into a few words that describe the gist of what is going on. Copy down those ideas onto a separate piece of paper. (I prefer to type them into Microsoft Word and print out what I have so I can hold the plot points in my hands.)
Once you have everything printed or written out, cut the pieces so only one plot point is on each strip.
The next bit is the fun part. Rearrange the slips of paper until your story makes more logical sense as part of your message. Take out some parts. Put new parts in. Be flexible when it comes to your writing. Don’t worry about how the scenes will be written or which character will do what specifically. Just focus on the overall idea.
When you have everything in the order that pleases you, compare it to your original work. Did anything change? Did anything stay the same? It’s good as long as your message is coming through loud and clear.
That is editing. Making sure your message is clear and if it’s not, fixing it.