I’m currently in the first edit run through of my novel and I realized how hard it is. I just got past the SHITTY FIRST DRAFT and now the real work begins.
When you first sit down to edit I strongly recommend printing out all the pages that you have so far and spread them out in front of you. This way you can really see what you’re working with and make the edit process easier than the view from a laptop.
Here are my five steps to Self Editing
1. Get The Plot Down Pat
Know exactly what’s happening in your story from beginning to end. At the end of the first draft everything that’s going to happen is in place.
Make sure you’re sticking with the point of view you chose.
I decided to go with a mix and match point of view with my novel by having the point of view change back and forth between the two main characters. I had multiple perspectives so my readers would connect with them more and get more of the story.
I suggest doing a quick skim through of your draft to make sure all plot details are included. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling errors at this point. This stage is making sure everything is where is should be.
2. Double Check Your Research
If you’re writing a reality based fiction you’d better make sure the story comes off as real as possible to your readers. For example, if you’re saying your characters are traveling the world you should make sure the travel times you put in your story is correct. You don’t want your readers doing their own research and find out your “facts” are wrong. That would be unprofessional and take your readers out of the story.
If you’re writing a story about something you know absolutely nothing about I recommend going to your library for the basics of your research. Don’t always trust what people put up on the internet and go find the information yourself if you can.
3. Pay Attention To How Your Characters Talk
Language is very important to a character’s unique identity. Make sure their style of talking stays the same throughout the story so it doesn’t confuse your readers.
Your readers should be able to tell which character is speaking just by how the character talks. Make their voice stand out and is recognizable. Don’t let it be so common it sinks into the background.
4. Next Take a Week Away From Your Story
Disconnect with your characters, setting, and the plot and approach it later with a clear head. Editing with fresh new eyes allows you to be a harsher editor which is needed to really sharpen your work.
Also by taking a break from your story you’re more likely to see errors that you haven’t noticed before. Nothing says armature writing than misspelled word, typos, or plot holes.
5. Grammar, Spelling, Typos
You would want to correct these last because they can be corrected without having to make big changes thorough your story.
This editing stage should go well beyond computer spell check. Read your book from start to finish slowly. Read it like you never read it before by making sure it flows, there aren’t any typos, and that the grammar is correct.
Read out loud. If it doesn’t sound right to you it definitely won’t sound right to your readers.
After you finish these five steps skim through one last time to make sure it’s to your satisfaction. This does not make your novel store ready but it does make it pro editor ready along with being read to be read other people who you’d like to critique it.
Remember, no writing is perfect so don’t waste too much time self editing than what is called for. In other words, don’t spend four months getting your edits as perfect as it can be. It all depends on the length of your novel. My estimation is no more a month and a half for self editing.
Good luck and please share your comments about your method of self editing. Thank you so much and keep writing.