Novel editing 101
Hello, I hope you’re doing good because today we are talking about editing. I know aah. A lot of writers are not very big fans of editing, but as a writer we have to earn how to edit. Especially if you want to publish. Regardless of hiring a professional editor, you need to self edit. I am not the biggest fan of the process, but I have been at it long enough that I figured I’d make a post about it and here we are.
Before we start, don’t forget to subscribe to some writing templates and to get updated every time I post. Now let’s get into the editing.
1. Read through your manuscript
A lot of writers edit as they write and if that works for you, that is actually fantastic. Now you have a more refined manuscript. Even so, now that you are done with one draft, it's time to edit it again. Now, it’s time for you to read through your drafted. I know… yikes. Reading through a draft is not always fun. In fact, sometimes it is downright painful. But this is the first step in your editing process, so prepare yourself because it may not be very good
Take notes while you read the draft, but try not to edit this time. The best way to catch major story problems is for you to read the draft without a lot of editing.
You can send it over to your kindle or read it as a pdf. But take notes. You don’t have to do this for every single line, but make notes. And do yourself a favor and go into details. Your notes won’t seem as cohesive when you read them later, so go into details.
2. Brace yourself
You just finished a first draft, congratulations, that is fantastic. But the first draft is also well the first of many. Your first draft is probably going to be terrible and sometimes it’s very hard to decide what to do next. If that’s the case for you, try alpha readers. These are the people who’ll read your book as a messy first draft, so make sure that this is someone you really trust.
Don’t expect the editing process to be easy or go by fast. Especially if you wrote your first draft during nanowrimo or just really fast without editing it, you have a long way to go. Don’t get discouraged and keep writing. Remember that most writers go through at least 5 or 6 drafts before getting to the novels you read.
3. Developmental edits
Here we have our first round of edits. Developmental edits are your big picture edits, it’s where you focus on plot holes and story problems. When you read your story, you’ll probably notice some inconsistencies or the fact that it lacks depth to you need to add in a plot Point or even your character development. It’s always better to start with developmental edits because it’s where you cut and add scenes, if you start with copy or line edits, you’ll end up making your writing pretty and cutting that could be painful.
I saw a YouTube video where someone said, make a table or list of major events in your wip, things you like and things you don’t like. Now, you have the most important scenes and that is a fantastic place to start from. And as for the things you don’t like, you don’t have to cut all this. It is just a list of things that need fixing.
Developmental edits are frustrating and take time, but the notes you made while you read your work will come in handy here.
Consider how well developed your characters are and if you have too many of them, maybe you need to cut a character because they just don’t serve a purpose to your storyline.
And is your plot interesting enough? Would you like to read it in a book, and what tropes have you used and how can you better utilize them?
Novel structure is another thing to consider here. Is your story structured properly and how is your pacing? Now might be a good time to look at story structures. A lot of writers (including myself) struggle with pacing, but studying story structure can really help this. Just remember that structure isn’t supposed to be rigid so the next time you want to use save the cat, don’t fit the percentage marks. If you want to know more about story structure with a shadow and bone example, check out my blog post on the same. Developmental editing is a huge topic, and I could make an entire post about it, so let me know if you want one!
4. Line edits
And now we are on to line edits! If you wrote your novel very first, your sentences are probably not structured very well and they may be grammatically right, but they just don’t sound quite right. In line editing, you get to focus on your writing style. You can make your prose more poetic or professional or whatever it is you want. Re structure your sentences and play around with it. You can also work on strengthening your descriptions here. ProWritingAid is a great resource that helps with your writing style. It gives you in-depth reports which are pretty helpful so you can check it out if you need any help.
5. Copy edits
Despite what a lot of people think, copy edits and line edits are not the same thing. In line edits, you work on your writing style, while here you focus more on grammar and syntax. I know we hate grammar. Not a lot of us writers are very good at grammar and that’s okay, but it’s also crucial for your book to have good grammar. Especially if you aren’t hiring a professional to help you with this. You can use tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid for this too. They are super helpful. But in closing copy edits are where you focus on typos, punctuation and your overall grammar.
And that is it for today’s post. I was going to include more in it, but developmental edits took up more words than I thought it would. I focused more on the basics here and if you want me to do a part 2, I could focus more on apps and tools you can use and ways to make the process easier. Editing is just a huge topic and I’ll try to do a part 2. If I focus more on apps, that may just be in an Instagram post so don’t forget to keep an eye out on my Instagram for that.
Before we go, don’t forget to drop a like, if this was helpful and maybe even comment. Subscribe so you never miss out on a post and goodbye till next Monday.