Editing your book is incredibly important. Not only will you be able to discover holes in your plot, you will also make the lives of your publisher and editor a whole easier.
Here are 7 ways to help you edit your novel
- Take some distance
Woohoo! You have finished your novel! That is amazing! You just want to run out there, pages in hand, and get your book published. But first your book needs to be edited. And I know you will probably want to start editing your book right away, but that would be a mistake.
The story is still fresh in your head and it is best you first take a bit of distance from your work. I would recommend letting your novel cool down for at least a month before you start editing. Yes, that is indeed a very long time, but you will thank me when you take your red pen through your book. In the meantime, you can start working on your next book or start looking up publishers and agents!
- Edit like a reader
One of the most important things to do while editing your work, is to edit your book from the readers perspective. Try to clear your mind and try to forget that you were the one that wrote this book.
Some authors even say that the best way to go about this is by sitting down with a cuppa and to read your book. Take notes in a little notepad and try to comment on style, on characters, pace and plot. Once you have finished reading your story from the reader’s perspective, it is time to go back to your book and edit like an author.
- Identify plot holes
Plot holes are shit. Think of Lost – yes, the series, and the plot holes and unanswered questions the series left its fans contemplating over. You would not want to do that. I understand that plot holes are inevitable, especially when you have done a lot of worldbuilding.
Try to mark and identify plot holes while reading and editing your novel. Use a different colour of pen or marker to highlight plot holes and try to fill them in as much as possible!
Go through your novel with a fine comb and try to identify any scenes and characters that have no use to the story. Delete them. Literally. They do not contribute to your story and ultimately will not contribute to your novel. In the end, they are just page fillers and people can get incredibly irritated by these passages.
Literally everything in your novel has to serve a purpose. If it doesn’t you must cut it out. It might indeed be hard to kill your darlings, but it must be done.
- Check your pacing!
Another incredibly important part of your story and ultimately of your novel is the pacing. The last thing you want your readers to go through is boredom. You can check this by adding pace to your story. Pace can be added both by using certain words, certain metrics ( the way you sentences sound) and obviously time indicators.
You will want to check that everything is in place, especially the time indicators. This means that you need to go through your novel and have a look that your days do not seem to take weeks and your weeks do not seem to take hours.
- Check names!
This is something that I always need to remember myself of: check the names of characters – both main and side characters, places and shops and whatever not – literally everything with a name. I like to change the names of my characters and places… which obviously makes that at the end of the road, my book is littered with different names and different spellings of names.
This is why I always go through my writings looking for names and places to edit.
- Check your Characters
Check all your character’s story arcs! This is incredibly important! How do their story arcs fit within the main character’s arc and did you convey their arcs in the way they act and talk? Has there been a change and is that change conveyed?
You can use character questionnaires in order to check up on the characters, their arcs and the way they should react.