It’s been a little more than a month since I’ve finished writing my first draft. Just getting to this point was years in the making and no small accomplishment. But at the same time, know it’s also just the start. I have a whole lot of editing ahead of me, and I have only the faintest idea of how to do it.
It’s not that I don’t know how to edit — I do. I’ve edited before: at newspapers, at my last job as the leader of four other writers, at my current position at a nonprofit. But I’ve never had to edit a novel before, and this is something altogether different.
Since I have no idea how to do this, I’ve gathered some ideas from around the internet. Here’s some of what I’ve found. Note that none of these are endorsements because I haven’t actually gotten that far yet. I’m still figuring it all out myself. But here are some things to consider:
Even before you edit, from the Well-Storied blog. (Visit the sites for full details on each step.)
- Take a rest.
- Read your manuscript without making notes or making changes.
- Read again considering the plot.
- Consider the pacing.
- Be honest about which story elements aren’t serving their purpose.
- Reconsider characters.
- Smooth out character arcs.
- Re-establish your characters’ wants and needs.
- Iron out the details.
- Make a game plan
From Positive Writer:
- Read your book.
- Summarize your novel in ten different ways.
- Prepare to write three drafts. You’ve done the first. The second is for structural fixes. The third is for polishing. You may need more beyond that.
- Send it to friends, aka “beta readers.”
- If you can afford it, hire a process editor after the second draft and a line editor after the third.
From Writers Edit:
- Read through
- Satisfying beginning and end
- Relevance to plot
- Decide what to change and what not to change
- Identify global and local issues
- Create an editing checklist
- Have peers review your work
- Make use of different tools
- Edit grammar and sentence flow