Editing

Work’s been kicking my ass lately. Okay, so it has been for most of the past twelve months now. It’s been especially kicking my ass since February.

(sigh)

Well, one of these days I’ll be a famous author and spend my days signing books and, uh, whatever else famous authors do right? Retconning shit on Twitter? Inventing backstory to questions my readers never asked? All that fun stuff.

Getting back to business, here, I thought I’d put together a guide to editing as practiced be me, a woman with little experience and questionable results. It’ll have a cool infographic though! I hear those are all the rage on the Twitter these days.

Oh, here it is.

I mean, it’s all there. Drama. Excitement. Huge space battles.

(I was thinking about Loyalty again. Sorry).

I’ll transcribe it all here as well, in case someone is using a screen reader or the image borks out!

STAGE 1: DRAFTING

You can’t edit a novel (or anything) if you don’t have a draft. Go write it.

What? You’ve written it already? It sits upon your computer in beautiful speckled glory? Continue to stage 2.

STAGE 2: WAITING

If you’re following along with the pictures, you’ll notice that our eggs have turned into a beautiful chrysalis, skipping the caterpillar stage entirely.

That is because after writing a draft, you must wait as long as you can bear (weeks or months, preferably) before you open it again.

Only then can your draft become a caterpillar, with apologies to Mother Nature.

STAGE 3: CATERPILLAR

Okay. You have a draft. You’ve forgotten everything you loved (and hated) about it. It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s…

Crawling around on a dozen creepy little legs and staring at you with six tiny stemmata*!

Now begins the fun. Open up that bad boy and read it. Don’t change anything! Don’t edit! If you must, make notes as you go, but try to just soak it in, beginning-to-end.
*stemmata are caterpillar eyes! Your Fun Fact for the day

STAGE 4: PEN-TO-PAPER

You’ve made a draft, you have a solid understanding of how it flows and where the weak points are.

Open the file, save a fresh copy (always save a new copy for a new draft! You might change your mind about edits later) and start from the first line, first word.

As you go, make wording and phrasing changes, copy-edits, grammar–everything you see!

The result of this will be…

STAGE 5: CLEAN COPY

Uh-oh, back to the chrysalis!

Give yourself a week off to let the changes you’ve just made settle. Once they’re not keeping you awake at night anymore, go back to your clean copy and give it another once-over. This time, make notes about structural problems: missing scenes, scenes which don’t flow well, characters acting in ways which are convenient for the plot but not necessarily their story arc. Go back, save another copy, and fix these problems too.

STAGE 6: ALPHA/BETA READERS

You now have a clean draft with few structural errors which you’ve read at least twice completely. It’s time to…

Get Outside Feedback.

Doesn’t have to be that scary, though. Give it to a trusted friend, preferably one who is also a writer or avid reader. Ask for their feedback, plot points, thoughts on characterization–whatever they’re willing to give.

All feedback is good feedback. Make that your mantra as you sit there in anxiety, waiting for a response.

STAGE 7: RINSE AND REPEAT

Keep going.

Listen to feedback and incorporate it if you feel it is useful. All feedback is good feedback, but it’s your novel.

Read and re-read and keep making changes if you feel they are useful.

Try reading passages aloud to see how they flow: something which reads awkwardly aloud will sound awkward in your reader’s head, too.

STAGE 8: SHIP IT!

You’re done!

You’ve copy-edited, read aloud, fixed structural problems, solicited feedback from friends, and read the manuscript so many times you’re starting to loathe the thing.

What you do next is up to you. Put it up on Wattpad? Publish on Amazon or IngramSpark? Start querying? The world is your oyster: you wrote a novel!

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