8 Novel Editing Steps – The Basic Overview

'cinnamon rolls' photo (c) 2008, Timothy Vollmer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Writers love to write. They love writing so much more than editing that they write articles about how to edit and let their doughy mess of a manuscript sit beside the keyboard.

(Not that I would do that. Heh.)

But within the surplus of information they agree on certain points:

Get Perspective

1.) Finish and then let the manuscript sit. Set it aside until you don’t recall each keystroke. Come back when you’re ready to question the choices you made. Several weeks seems ideal.

2.) Read fast, as if it is all new, and make notes about the story and characters. Note the awkward bits, but keep moving until you get to the end. Then think about the theme and how you can sharpen the story and characters.

Refine Your Perspective: What are you trying to say?

3.) Make the story, pacing, and character revisions so the manuscript feels complete.

Get Other People’s Perspective

4.) Give your text to a test reader or freelance editor. Several, if you can. Be specific about the kind of feedback you’re looking for (Do you want them to focus on story? Character? Or grammar and formatting? They don’t know if you don’t tell them.) Choose people who are constructive. Give adequate time for good feedback. Don’t nag, but be clear on deadlines.

5.) Consider test reader feedback and make changes.

Polish the Details so Nothing Detracts

6.) If the story and characters are nailed down, begin line edits.
[There’s a great article with specific examples at Writers in the Storm]
Remove what isn’t necessary (words, paragraphs, even chapters)
Use powerful verbs
Remove adverbs and adjectives
Revised dialogue
Check grammar, spelling, and punctuation

7.) Print it. Read it out loud. Revise again.

Stop Editing. Yes, You Must Reach That Point

8.) Begin your query letter. Submit to a publisher or agent, or if you’re considering indie publishing then find a freelance editor and look at cover artists.

The same dough can make a loaf of bread or a cinnamon roll. You refine and bake it into its final shape, and that’s when it’s ready to be enjoyed.

Let me know how your editing goes.

An update on me: Using the outline method in A Simple Novel Outline, I wrote my newest book in 4 months. I’ve edited it, sent it to test readers, and have begun line editing. Everything seems to take so much longer than I expected, but I’m still excited about the book.

If you’re a fan of Fractured Horizon, or would like to read a short story set in that universe, check out Podioracket Presents-Glimpses story number 12 Future in Hand. It’s available as free audio on Podiobooks.com or an inexpensive text on Smashwords or at Amazon.com.

2 thoughts on “8 Novel Editing Steps – The Basic Overview

  1. You bet! I’ve read a lot of advice on editing, especially about eliminating words, but your lists and examples let us see the advice applied.

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