Editing and revisions can be the most tedious tasks for a writer. With something the size of a novel, it can also be overwhelming. If you’re facing this task, how can you approach it to make the transition from incomplete draft to finished product as painless as possible? Here are some tips to help you work efficiently and logically from beginning to end.
Start with the big picture. Don’t immediately start fixing typos and grammatical errors. Take a step back and evaluate the plot and character development. I like to print out my books as it helps me see the big picture more clearly. I go through and scribble notes in the margins: need a scene here, this paragraph belongs somewhere else, that character need fleshing out. Those sorts of things. After you’ve made your changes, have a friend or someone else you trust read it. Make sure the story makes sense to someone not inside your head and find out what they feel is missing before you move on to the nit picky stuff.
Move in a little closer. Once you’ve got your big picture work done, it’s time to pay more attention to your phrasing, transitions, and dialogue. Read how things sound (even out loud) and start smoothing everything out and tightening it up. Make passive sentences active, and choose words that pop and sing.
Attention aux details. I heard this endlessly from my French professor in college and now I get to say it to you. Yes, the details do count, especially when you’ve already invested all this time into your book. So proofread more than once, checking for typos, grammatical errors, spelling errors, and other minutiae that can help you look like the pro you are. If possible, have another person with fresh eyes check for you too.
It’s the way of a writer to make changes down to the last second. But having a system and taking the editing process in steps will help you get your book from first draft to finished novel before you know it.
On a different note, today is the last day to download Dead Locked for free by using code KR98Q. Enjoy!
Photo by Nic McPhee