Wednesday, July 31, 2013

#WWW : Denise Moncrief on #Editing #WritersLife

I'm excited to have Denise Moncrief here today as part of her Crisis of Identity Tour. She's going to share a smidge about her thoughts on the bane of my existence ...


Click on the tour button for a list of her scheduled stops and a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

Take it away Denise!


I have a confession to make. Editing puts me to sleep. Seriously. Sometimes I’m in the middle of self-editing my manuscript—my baby—when boom! My head hits the keyboard. It’s embarrassing, but you know, I’ve read the story sooo many times is it any wonder my mind is wandering.

One day the nodding off scared me. My mind hyperventilated—started popping out questions about my writing prowess. Like…Why am I falling asleep? What if my book is THAT boring? What’s wrong with the plot? Is it not fast-paced enough? Are the plot devices trite and overused? Are the characters unrealistic?

When my heart rate finally slowed, I realized the plot didn’t bore me. No! My muse and I created the story with loving care, blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, maybe no blood, but there were a few tears. It had to be editing. Yeah, I’ll blame it on editing.

Writing a fresh story is fun. The characters practically create themselves. The conflict forms out of their personalities and their choices. The dialogue flows as I hear in my head what someone would say and how they would say it. The plot thickens at just the right time. I love writing.

I don’t love self-editing. I work with a wonderful editor, but my goal is to have my manuscript as shiny as possible before I submit it to my publisher. I want my editor to buff and polish, not do major surgery on the heart of the book.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about self-editing. No worries, this isn’t going to get technical with a dry list of the Unbendable Unbreakable Rules For Aspiring Writers.

No matter how many times I’ve edited a manuscript, I can always find something else to “fix”.

I’ve obsessed over passive voice, verb tense, POV head hops, filtering, showing vs. telling, and the bane of my existence, comma placement. But no matter how many times I’ve gone over my story, I can always find an omitted word. And homonyms? Argh. Similarly spelled or similar sounding words will do me in. The first draft is a very rough draft. Every time I learn a new concept, the added knowledge requires another review of my manuscripts.

Self-editing is a structured, and therefore, a highly redundant process.

I find it overwhelming to tackle the abundance of concepts I should remember when I’m editing a manuscript, so I have to have a plan. I’ve started going through my stories in several passes. In the first pass, I check for grammar and punctuation. I let the manuscript “rest” for a while and then in the second pass, I check for consistency and plot continuity. In the third pass, I look for redundancy, filtering, head pops, and telling. On my next but not necessarily my last pass, I read the story aloud to someone, checking for flow, credibility, and glaring inconsistencies.

This creates a lot of repetition. By the time I work through it this often, I know my story so well I can quote it in my sleep.

Edits should never be attempted at the time of day when I’m most susceptible to falling asleep.

No, it isn’t midnight. I don’t know what it is about editing in the afternoon that makes my eyelids droop and my mouth stretch into a wide yawn. The same thing will happen if I try to read in the afternoon, so it’s not just my stories. Thank goodness.

My most productive time of day is…well, right now. It’s 10:44 pm CDT and I’m churning out this blog post without a single yawn or drooping eyelid. Editing at three in the afternoon? I should know better. I’ve learned to give it up and watch another episode of CSI:Miami on Netflix. At just about nineish, either my editing conscience will kick in or my muse will jump up and down in front of my face and I’ll grab my Mac and tear up the keyboard.

When I discover a new concept in generally accepted writing style, I shouldn’t knee-jerk and start editing every unsubmitted manuscript on my hard drive.

When I first discovered the concept of POV and head hopping, I dusted off all fifteen of my unpublished manuscripts and went to work. It was painful, because after that I discovered the concept of showing vs. telling and the process started again. Then I heard the term filtering for the first time…

Well, you get the idea. Now I work one manuscript at a time. After all, I can only submit one at a time. Right? Two at the most. If both stories were contracted at the same time, then there would be all those edits at the same time and then…

I truly believe the editing phase of a WIP is where most writers give up. I don’t love editing and I don’t love falling asleep in the midst of it. Self-editing is a necessary process and one a writer should embrace with determination and persistence. As a writer I want my finished product to be the best it can be, but I can’t do what I need to do effectively if I’m half-asleep. So…If I start dozing, somebody wake me up and pour me a cup of coffee.


Click on image to add on Goodreads
Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

Purchase Links:

5 Prince Publishing  /  Amazon  /  Smash Words
iTunes  /  Barnes & Noble


Denise wrote her first story when she was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. She earned a degree in accounting, giving her some nice skills to earn a little money, but her passion has always been writing. She has written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. Her favorite pastimes when she’s not writing are spending time with her family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, two children, and one very chubby dog.



  1. thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. Thanks for hosting me today, Terri!

  3. I'm the odd author in that the editing is my favorite part. I need the story in front of me in order to do something with it.
    Everyone says to look for the big issues first, but I also edit small stuff on the first pass, because it bugs me to distraction.

  4. Thanks for the insight into the life of an author :)

    MinDaf @