|Image by Anne Karakash from Pixabay|
So, the first draft of your novel is finished. Now the editing starts. I personally do one edit at a time. Perhaps this really proves that writing is mainly rewriting.
The three (+) stages of editing
• The structural edit
• Writers’ techniques / skills edit / technical edit
• The words
• The proof read
• Creative editing
The structural edit
• Is the structure sound?
• Is the resolution satisfying?
• Does the overall time-scale work? (You may have already planned a time structure into your novel but it is still worth checking that it is right.)
• Is this actually a young adult novel?
• Are characters consistent and rounded? Do they grow?
• Is there cause and effect?
• Is there tension and pace?
• Is the dialogue working correctly?
• Is there a narrative balance?
• Is the balance of showing and telling right?
• Are points of view consistent?
• Are the style and the voice consistent?
• Kill off your darlings
– Are they too good for the rest of you text?
– Can you match them?
– If all of the text is like this will it become too rich.
• Get rid of clichés
– Note clichés work – but you can say it even better
• Do a thorough copy edit
– Check every single word. Do you mean what you say and say what you mean?
• Read out loud.
– You spot mistakes more easily
– You can test overall flow
• Normally this happens when the book is about to go off to the printer.
• Three people proof read: the author, the editor and a professional proof-reader.
• It saves your publisher a lot of time and money if you do this yourself before you send in your scrip. Be warned though: they’ll still spot something.
• Professional proof readers use a special mark-up language. It’s useful to learn this.
• Many also now use track Changes in Microsoft Word. You should get used to this.
• Look at one aspect at a time.
• Maybe change the font for each edit. (Don’t forget to change it back later.)
• Start at a different point for each edit. (Some maths involved here.)
• Be aware of your own particular faults and look for those also.
Getting help from critique groups
• You must be selective.
• Find one that specialises in what you write.
• Will the group’s style suit you? Are they too laid back or too strict?
• Remember, you can learn as much by looking at other people’s work as by looking at your own.
• Works often sent out in advance so that you read it and prepare your comments before the meeting.
• Be aware of developing a “house style”. Your group may have particular preferences.
• Consider also an online group.
- This name comes from IT.
- They meet the completed text only – gets away from house styles / over familiarity of group.
- They might be other writers, target readers, or experts on your theme or setting.
- Six is perhaps a good number.
- Allow them to comment on any aspect of your work regardless of why you have selected them.
- You could print a proof copy of your book to make it easier to read or you could turn it into a mobi-file so that your beat readers can read it on their Kindle.
- You pay someone to edit your work. This can be very expensive.
- New editing companies and freelancers arrive all the time. On the whole you get what you pay for. Some are very good. Some are less good. Always get references / endorsements.
- They may be worth it if you keep getting rejections but critique groups and beta readers like your work.
- They are probably essential if you want to self-publish.
- Two further thoughts:
- Is this a career path for you? Could you also become an editor?
- Could you form a cooperative? Writers edit each other’s’ work.