Once again I’ll clarifying that I’m a little crazy when it comes to being thorough. Mistakes horrify me and if I can avoid them I sure as heck will!
Anyone that writes novel knows that editing is the majority of the time put into creating a novel. If you’re like me, your novel is 200-something pages long and full of mistakes. No matter how many time you stare at it by your lonesome self it won’t be perfect.
To get my novels up to par I came up with a system to clean them of those nasty mistakes. It’s a bit of a 7 step process.
1. Finish Your Book
I know, I know. That’s obvious. I’m just trying to deter people from editing with only half their book written. DON’T DO IT!
2. Do Nothing
“Do nothing? After I just finished an entire book? What the frick?” -Me
This works though, I swear.
Once you finish your book you need to step back for awhile. Some writers recommend waiting a month or two, but that’s excessive. I can only stand to wait about a week before I dive into editing.
The point of doing nothing is to clear your mind of your book. If you start editing the second you finish writing, you’re still going to have the book fresh in mind. You’ll think of what you meant to say instead of reading the book like you are completely new to it.
After a bit of time, you’ll be able to look past what you thought you said and just see the errors you made trying to say it.
So, just take a week off to read other books. Maybe work on a different project or just enjoy your time off.
Breathe! Writers often don’t just breathe!
3. Read and Take Notes
The first time you pick up your freshly written novel you need to read it like it’s a real book. I recommend reading it in a format which you won’t be tempted to edit in. Personally, I sent the book file to my kindle and downloaded it. That way it was physically impossible for me to change anything.
I do recommend keeping a notebook nearby while you read, though. Write down any major errors you find and keep track of the pages they appear on.
You might also want to make some sort of chart to keep things organized. You may have a different plan, but my chart I split into three columns for: easy fixes, errors throughout the whole book, and other. Here’s what it looked like(Excuse the crappy quality):
If you can read my chicken scratch, you’ll see that the top is labled: page, book, other. Those captions mean the same as I earlier described them.
Anyway, give a chart a chance and once again: DON’T EDIT YOUR BOOK DURING THIS RUN-THROUGH. You will have many chances to edit it in the future. This run-through should only give you an idea of how a reader would feel about your novel.
4. Write in any Necessary Scenes and Edit the Mistakes you Wrote Down
Okay, now you can edit. Pull up the good ol’ manuscript on your computer and dive in.
During this run-through you have two missions: write in scenes that you should have added before, and fix the big mistakes you found in the first run-through.
This is one of the few run-throughs that I recommend skipping around your book. You don’t need to reread your novel if it’s not necessary. Just go where you need to fix something and then move on. You’ll reread your novel plenty of times.
4. Read and Edit
I told you it was coming.
Now you can finally read your whole book and fix whatever you want. If you see bad grammar, fix it. If you see a spelling error, fix it. Fix anything you find.
You can do this step as many times as you want. I feel better the more I go through mine so don’t be shy. I probably read through my book 5 time before I ever moved onto the next step.
As long as you’ve cleaned it up as best as you can possibly manage without any help, then you are safe to move onto step five.
5. Have Others Edit
I have a ton of friends that nearly beg me to let them help edit my book but letting them would probably be a horrible mistake.
Pick a couple trusted people to look over your book. Choose wisely, because these people are really going to be a massive help.
Chose people based on the audience you’re looking for, too. My own book is a YA book so I had to be careful picking my helpers.
Also, only ever choose people that will put the time into helping. People with very busy lives won’t bother to help, so don’t even give them the chance.
My editors for this round are my mom (I know, she’s great 🙂 ) and my best friend. I couldn’t have picked better people, either.
As the person who gave birth to me, my mom had great dedication to finishing her run-through and giving me some advice.
Meanwhile, my best friend is the same age as me and loves similar books so she knew what to look for. She was brutal when it came to things I needed to fix, but she also was SO excited. The combination of friendly brutality and fangirling from her was enough to inspire me to get this book published.
My recommendation is that you only choose two or three people. Then, you need to print out enough paper copies for everyone (I know, it’s pricey). With paper copies they can mark everything right on the page and when you’re finished you can collect the copies and add their edits.
6. Add Their Edits
Depending on how many people you have editing, this may take a couple run-throughs. It’s probably the most chill part of the editing process, though, so enjoy it.
7. Repeat Step Four
Repeat step four until you feel comfortable with your manuscript again.
Don’t wait to fix a mistake “next run-through”. Get it now.
At this point in the editing process you can choose to either give your editors copies again, or just move on to the next step in getting your book published (Whatever that may be).
So, Good luck!