Most experts recommend writing first and editing last. And, of course, you need to have written something before you can edit, but there are times when it’s okay to edit as you go e.g., after each chapter or scene. Here are some reasons why:
- So you can experiment with viewpoint and tense now rather than in the second draft.
- It saves searching for To Be verbs such as ‘was’ after writing 90,000 words …
- It allows you to pounce on any instance of there’s when you meant there are.
- It allows you to check details against your notes e.g., eye colour, scars etc. The last thing you want is a character’s red hair on page 12 suddenly becoming blonde on page 137 without a reason.
- So a character’s name doesn’t change mid-chapter, leaving you with a warm flushed face when a reader or professional editor discovers it.
- To check whether a particular flower has a scent or not. (Seriously, things like this happen all the time.)
- To check if a brand, fashion, trend or event really existed or occurred in a particular year.
- So your main character’s eyes don’t narrow or roll all the time.
- So you don’t write something stupid and forget to fix it.
- So you can develop an editing checklist now rather than later.
Editing on the move is achievable if you see it as part of multitasking. When writing, so many things are in play in your mind, you might as well make your sentences shine if possible. I’m not saying you have to edit now, that would be foolhardy because writers write and edit in their own peculiar way. But if you can edit quickly without losing focus, go for it. Edit away. It could save you a lot of time, despair and embarrassment later on.
What is the worst situation you have encountered in rushing your first draft?
What is the most embarrassing thing you have written without checking first?
Comments and experiences welcome