As you may have seen, I’ve finished my first draft of FanFact, the story of a fangirl who stumbles into her favorite fantasy book series. After taking a brief break to give myself some space from the manuscript, I’ve started the editing process.
Every author has a different editing process, and I’m just starting to really understand my own. This is my third fully completed novel, but it is the first I’ve gone back to do hard edits on. I think part of the reason for this is because I had such a firm handle on this story from day one, and I have a more vocal support group than I used to.
This time I think I’m actually going to get through the editing process without losing my mind!
Step 1 - Beta Reader
The first thing I did was hand off my finished rough draft to my first beta reader. During this time, I didn’t go anywhere near my manuscript. You need to give yourself space right after you write something, otherwise it is easy to ignore mistakes because you don’t realize something in your head didn’t make it to the page.
I’ve sent my draft to several people for feedback, but I only waited for one of them to finish their critique before I went back to work.
Having a talented beta reader is necessary when working on a novel. They point out plot holes, where there needs to be more character development, inconsistencies in the text, and so much more. Once I have these notes I can move on to step two.
Step 2 - Making Notes On The Manuscript
After reading the notes from my beta reader I drove to the local library on a breezy, cloudy day. Before that day I had never printed any of my manuscripts, mostly because it seemed like a pain and I didn’t see the point when I could make the edits directly on the computer.
But what I’ve come to understand from working as a professional copywriter is that printing materials you write on a computer is one of the best things you can do in terms of editing. Why is this?
We’re conditioned to expect computer documents to be neat and organized. Track changes look messy.
It is easier to write notes (“Re-write”, “Expand this section”) on paper, versus on the computer where it feels like the changes should be made immediately.
It’s easier to spot typos on paper.
It is impossible to get wrapped up in re-writing specific sections, because there’s just no room to do it.
I’m really loving making my edits on my physical manuscript. There’s something extremely satisfying about it. For this round of edits I’m ignoring typos and grammar, and instead focusing on sections of the text that need re-writes.
After I make it through the manuscript the first time, I’ll have a full manual stating where I need to put in the most writing work. Then it will be back to writing again based on those manuscript notes, until I’ve gotten through all of them.
Step Three - Back To The Beta Readers
After I finish making all the noted changes, including the changes proposed by my beta reader, I’ll send the manuscript back out. Hopefully this time I’ll only get a few, smaller notes for improvement. The goal is to not have any major rewriting to do after I get my second round of feedback.
As notes from my beta readers come in, I’ll start applying changes as needed. By now my writing should be at its best.
Step Four - Proofreading & Fact Checking
This is the bit of the editing process that I am looking forward to least. Step four is a much more monotonous undertaking than the first three steps, and it requires I pay very close attention to every single word I’ve written.
This isn’t just looking for typos and grammar errors. This is the final run before I start to pitch to agents. That means that everything has to be as perfect as it can be. I need to fact check not just my research, but my own writing.
From page to page, all the little details have to be consistent. Liam must be the same age across the entire book. Small details, such as town names, must always match. Details that are unnecessary and distracting must be removed so they don’t create confusion for the reader.
My beta readers will make some of these corrections themselves, but that doesn’t get me off the hook.
As I continue through the editing process I’ll be sending exclusive previews to my email newsletter subscribers. Sign up so you don’t miss out!