60-Day Edit – Step 1: Get Organized

It’s May 1st.

Welcome to the 60-Day Edit!

Pencils ready? Let’s do this thing.

Our year thus far.

IMAGE: 90-Day Write cycle logo.IMAGE: Black arrow pointing to the right IMAGE: 30-Day Finish Logo

Happening now?


Wish me luck! I #amediting my novel during the 85K Writing Challenge 60-Day Edit. #85K90 Click To Tweet

Step 1: Get Organized.

Every writer and every piece of writing is unique. Only you can determine how best to spend your time during the 60-Day Edit.

One approach is to devote the month of May to developmental “big picture” revisions and then devote the month of June to smaller, line item edits.

IMAGE: May 2018 - Calendar on White Background

May: Developmental Editing

Think of developmental editing as “big picture” editing that shapes broad, large issues like story structure, plot, and character development. During this stage, chapters or events are often rearranged, storylines are developed, and characters undergo further examination. In some cases, minor characters (and subplots that lead nowhere) are cut. Often, words need to be cut to produce a book within the framework of reader expectation and genre guidelines.

If you’re planning to hire a developmental editor to complete a developmental edit on your manuscript, know that a developmental editor is a specific type of editor. They typically do not complete extensive line editing (also called copyediting) because the novel is about to undergo developmental changes – which tend to be sweeping in scope and therefore requires a lot of rewriting, revising, moving things around, etc. So it doesn’t quite make sense to correct every single punctuation mark at this point, because whole sentences may change during the rewrite.

IMAGE: IMAGE: June 2018 - Calendar on White Background

June: Line Editing

Think of line editing (or copyediting) as “small detail” editing that hunts down errors in usage, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. It’s at this stage that you clean up your manuscript line by line, carefully reading each and every word, searching for every itty bitty, teeny tiny thing that needs fixing.

Line editing often includes mechanical editing, which is the consistent application of a particular style. By style, I am referring to the rules governing grammar, syntax, and usage, as established by a respected style guide. The publishing industry uses The Chicago Manual of Style as its style guide, and Chicago recommends Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as its supporting dictionaries.

Line editing may also include substantive editing, which can involve rewriting what you wrote to improve the overall quality of the writing. If your manuscript requires substantive editing and you’re hiring an editor to help with this task, expect to pay more than you’d pay if you were only needing a line edit.

Most novels written during the 90-Day Write are probably not ready for a professional editor just yet.

I suspect the majority of writers on the #85K90 will be revising what they wrote during the 90-Day Write (remember, we wrote those 85,000 words quickly – they probably need some fine-tuning) and that AFTER the sixty days of careful editing and revisions THEN it’s probably time to engage in professional editing.

For now, consider focusing on big-picture items in May, smaller details in June.

Step by step, it’ll all get done.

– Julie

P.S. Join the discussion in the forum. Under “60-Day Edit – General Discussions” I’ve posted an index card calendar idea that might help you stay organized and on track during the 60-Day Edit. Enjoy!

Big picture developmental edits in May. Small detail line edits in June. #EditingTips for #editing on the #85K90. Click To Tweet

About Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie, an avid Scrabble player who once played QWERTY on a triple word, writes humorous women’s fiction and is developing a series set in the idyllic Village of Primm. She is the co-founder of the 85K Writing Challenge and serves on the board of directors as communications chair for James River Writers, a multi-faceted non-profit organization based in Richmond, Virginia, that serves as central Virginia’s literary hub.

Deepening her love of the written word, Julie earned a certificate in editing from the University of Chicago Graham School and is constantly humbled by the nuances of language and the nitty-gritty of grammar while strengthening her proficiencies in the Chicago Manual of Style. With a master’s degree in education and a certification in wilderness first aid, Julie enjoys reading, the study of wine, section hiking the Appalachian Trail, and travel. Visit julievalerie.com, or, better yet, subscribe to her once-monthly author newsletter. On Twitter: @Julie_Valerie. On Facebook: JulieValerieAuthor.

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie

85K Writing Challenge: Embracing the writing life by advancing the practice of productive writing from the first word to the first reader.

One thought on “60-Day Edit – Step 1: Get Organized

  1. Best of luck to everyone during the editing phase! My personal experience is my scrappy first draft isn’t usually as terrible as I originally thought. With luck, you may even find yourself enjoying what you wrote.

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