I can definitely relate to the image here! I had always thought that writing the first draft was the longest and most time-consuming step of writing a novel - did Eternal ever prove me wrong! Here are my tips on doing a thorough editing job:
1. Create a detailed outline.
I know there are a lot of "pantsers" out there who just like to start writing and see where it takes them, but I am certainly not one of these people. I strongly believe the more work you put into your outline, the easier the whole process is - for me, at least. If you work hard on a sturdy, thorough outline, it'll save you tons of headaches in the future when it comes to plot holes and pacing. I learned this the hard way.
2. For the first draft, just type.
If I ever make it big, I'm putting the inventor of Write or Die in my acknowledgements. It's a website that you write in, has no spell or grammar checker, records how long you've been writing for and how many words you've written...oh yeah, and punishes you if you stop writing. First drafts are supposed to be raw and gritty and full of gems buried beneath poor grammar and awkward sentences. It's all about getting the characters out of your brain and walking around on their own.
3. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Once I have my first draft down, I rewrite the entire book. Okay, maybe retype is a better word for it. But essentially, I rewrite the book into a new word document, smoothing out sentences, changing around scenes, and adding or cutting things in order to improve the plot. Some scenes remain similar, and others are unrecognizably.
4. Print it out.
There's something about staring at a piece of paper compared to a computer screen that changes the way you think. Step 4 is my favourite part of the revision process: I print the entire book out and read it out loud. I mark typos, inconsistencies, scenes that don't work, and awkward dialogue. Reading your own work out loud is eye-opening: things that sounded good in your head just don't make sense once given breath. I find this step fun and rewarding: you finally get to see a complete manuscript that is more-or-else complete. All your hard-work is beginning to pay-off!
5. Implement the changes.
This is where I go back to my word document and make all the changes I had written on paper. If certain scenes need to be completely re-written, I'll go back to Step 3.
6. Final readthrough.
Are you sick of your book yet? In this step, I read the whole thing on the computer again, just double checking to make sure the manuscript is as strong as possible.
7. Share your work!
Whoo, this step is fun, exciting, nerve-wracking, and frustrating! Here's where you bug your mom, your dad, your friends, your critique partner, your writing group, whoever you want, to read your book. There's nothing like talking about your book with someone who just finished reading it. There's no feeling like someone generally enjoying the journey you took them on.
Well there you go: my Seven Steps to Mostly Painless Editing! Of course, you may need to do these seven steps several times, but this will definitely get your book in tip-top shape. If you'd like to see a condensed version, check out our video for some more editing tips!
How do you guys do your editing?