So you’ve finally finished your first draft and it’s time to edit it? Awesome! I’m in the same boat! Before you give your book to ANYONE to beta read, you need to do at least one to two passes of edits first. Since I’m about to dive into edits on my latest manuscript, I thought I’d share some of my wisdom with you all.
Step One: Make a blog post about your handy editing tips to avoid actually beginning your editing.
Step Two: Go ahead, spend five minutes in Photoshop making a cute image for the blog post. There’s tons of time left in the day and we’re trying to procrastinate it all away.
Step Three: Print that sucker out. Don’t even pretend you can read or edit your manuscript on the screen. YOU CAN’T.
Now that you have a printed manuscript, and because I am tired of writing steps out, we’ll switch to bullet points.
- Grab a pen, grab a coffee, (or your drink of choice but if it’s not coffee, what’s wrong with you?) and settle down somewhere comfortable. I like to be on my bed with the door closed, preventing anyone from bothering me. I sat at a desk or a bike desk for two months while I wrote this thing so why would I still want to be at a desk to edit it?
- Take a deep breath and get into the right head space. This is a first draft and it’s going to suck and that’s okay.
- Read over your book as a reader who is looking for flaws in the plot. Go ahead and mark any random typos you find, but they aren’t really important. You wrote this book in chunks, over several days, so you’ve forgotten most of it. Read all as if it’s the first time you’re ever seeing it and put yourself in the reader’s shoes. When something weird stands out at you, mark it.
- Mark the flaws in the timeline, continuity errors, things that seem completely out of place because you most likely wrote them during a half-sleep daze at 3 in the morning that time you thought you had a really great scene idea.
- Make a note (off to the side) of overused words and expressions. Don’t bother fixing them on the page just yet. Just be aware of all the words you’ll need to search and replace later.
- Remember back to the book you envisioned when you decided to write it. What are the themes or elements of the story that have slipped away? Do you need to reinforce any character flaws or emotions? Make a note of it. Even better: find a place in the book to add more ooomph. Don’t bother adding it now, just note that you need to.
- Are scenes or lines particularly bad? Or pointless to the story? Cross that shit out. Yes it hurts. Yes it sucks. Just do it. You’re cutting the ugly wart off your book and it’ll thank you for it later.