Work bigger to smaller.
I start my editing on the principle of working through the big problems first, then each additional edit gets to focus on smaller and smaller issues. In my first read through I am looking at my content. Are there any holes in my story, am I telling when I should be showing? Are there any inconsistencies? Big stuff. Now if I come across small stuff as I go, of course I will fix it when I see it, but that is not my primary focus. I am buffing out my story during the first read-through.
The reality is that most audiences are forgiving. What I mean by this is that we will forgive bad acting in a B movie as long as the story is good. We will forgive bad cartoon illustrations as long as the content of the program is good and we will forgive grammar errors if the story is engrossing enough that we don't see them!
But no matter how great the actor is, we cannot forgive a bad story, no matter how good the illustrations, if the content sucks we just aren't there. Even if there is not a single grammatical or spelling error, we will not finish a book if the story doesn't grab us.
Don't believe me? Here are some examples: How many of you could not stand Castaway, even though Tom Hanks is a phenomenal actor? Yet Twilight is a raging success, despite wooden performances. South Park is horribly illustrated, but has been on air for almost fourteen years. Yet Animes are not as popular in the U.S. (despite their beautiful rendering) because most Americans do not understand the stories! Mark Twain made telling stories in tone popular, because he could not grasp the rules of grammar! Yet most people loathe reading Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter) because they cannot relate to the stories, even though his writing is grammatically superior to Twain.
So make sure you have the most intact story possible, before you start fixing all the little stuff. Next week we will focus on how to fix some of the big stuff! Are there any "big" issues you need help fixing in your own story? Tell us in the comments below, or feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to offer assistance!
Any tips to other writers on how to fix the big stuff? Please, share in the comments below!! We are a community and it takes a village to make a good book!!
Until next time, keep writing!!