My second manuscript has passed through the hands of my first CP and has been edited AGAIN. I’ve given it to my second editor and she is currently ripping it to shreds. The first time I went through this process I did everything wrong and I’d like to think I’ve learned at least a few things about the editing process — ¬†at least how it works best for me.

The three angels/gods/geniuses with red pens that I use for my primary editing of the first drafts of a manuscript do invaluable work for me that I will never be able to repay. I’m sure you’ve got a few of those people who will look at your works and spend hours being brutally honest pointing out all your flaws. I won’t lie, it stings. But like hydrogen peroxide in a dirty wound, the process is worth every painful moment.

This time around I realized I had used my editing angels completely wrong the first time they worked as a team. ¬†Getting my first manuscript into fighting shape was a messy, amateurish process. I gave two of them the MS at the same time — dumb. And I didn’t use their talents in the right order.

This time, I gave the draft to my holistic reader first. The reader who sees the entire picture, who focuses on themes and character development. She rarely looks at punctuation or grammar, her gig is the whole enchilada. Does it hold together, are the characters honest and authentic?

Next the MS goes to my detail reader. She hunts for dialog inconsistency, continuity issues, believe-ability, facts, some grammar and spelling (I suck at spelling). We spend HOURS talking over her notes and then I grind out the fixes.

My third reader is my father-in-law. A retired math professor, he is all about the minutia of everything technical. Hyphens, obscure uses of the semi colon and quotations, he’s my detail man. Shining up the fenders and getting years of cracker crumbs out of the seats…he catches the tiny shit I could care less about and doesn’t rub my lack of attention in my face.

Editing drafts three, four and five are an exercise in rewriting and rewriting. How do you go about making your MS into the best it can possibly be?