I'm in the middle of editing my current book, which got me thinking about editing in general and how different it is for everyone. On twitter, I asked if anyone else did an outline after they finished the story like I did. Didn't get many answers, but one said he did a detailed one for his first book, so-so for his second and for his third, hasn't thought of it yet but maybe. Another asked what this strange "outline" was.
It's one of those things that everyone has to do differently, not unlike writing itself. Hell, I usually do it different for every book. My first (may it never see the light of day) I would write and then go over what I wrote. When I finished, I did quite a few passes. Sadly, it didn't make it any better.
For the current one, as I indicated, I made an outline of the important events for each chapter. With it all condensed on a few pages, it's easier to look at it and pick out what should go, what I want to stay but might have to go, and what isn't important to the plot, but is to the characters. I'm hoping I'll be able to cut out about ten thousand words (it runs almost 80,000), first from removals and then from going through and snipping out individual words
But still, there is a problem: I can't catch everything. Editing out little words is one thing but I for one can't always tell when a plot line or a character is working. Sometimes I'm convinced a word or a phrase or an event is vital to the story, but you know what? It's not. That's what beta readers are for. It's true that you can be your own harshest critic, but that doesn't mean you're right.