Three-Pass Editing System

My publisher, Entangled Publishing, uses the three-pass editing system. As I write this, I’m in the lull between first and second passes, and am busy taking care of my to-do list, so when the second pass arrives, I can dive right in.

The three-pass editing method is a great system for authors to add to their writing routines.

First Pass

THE BIG EDIT. This is the pass where the editor(s) take a look at the big-picture items. The plot, the character arcs, the plot holes, etc. This is the “dreaded editor letter” everyone talks about. It’s a developmental edit. This is the pass where you may have to get rid of an extra character or change the POV or cut/add whole chapters. Here is the video I made for my editors to show them how hard I worked on their notes:

 

Second Pass

The second editing pass shrinks down to line edits. For my book specifically, we’ll be looking at the speech patterns of my foreign speakers. I’ve got an elderly couple who fled Poland during WWII. When they first arrive in New York, their English is limited, but by the end of the novel (which covers several years) their speaking has significantly improved. Well, mostly, because one of them is suffering from dementia, and so I have to show her reverting back to Polish. We’ll also be looking at the other characters, making sure they stay consistent. And, of course, I’ll do a Margie Deep Edits pass to amp up the use of dynamic language.

Third Pass

Yikes. THIS. IS. IT. Unless I find a huge-can’t-believe-we-missed-this kind of plot hole, I won’t be making any changes. This is our final copy edit check for spelling, commas, proper grammar, etc. While I’ve done this kind of pass before sending work out on submission, I’ve never been at this stage FOR REAL. As in, I’m not revising this book any more. I think I will be both elated and incredibly sad at the end of this pass. I don’t know. I’ll have to come back and give an update.

So, there you have it. The three-pass edit. Add it to your routines!

One thought on “Three-Pass Editing System”

  1. Interesting to hear this Shonna, my first book (and only) was non fiction and I self published. Am planning a novel for my third book so I hope I will be finding all this out for myself very soon 🙂

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