EDITING YOUR NOVEL


I am presently in the middle of editing 34 chapters of my romance novel.  It’s quite a hard job because you need concentration and lots of peace and quiet to enable you to keep continuity as you edit.  You may have spent too much time describing your character,  you have to watch for show/tell errors, in fact if  there are so many edits required, you might have to do as I did some years ago and scrap the whole book and start again. You are left wondering why you started writing in the first place.  Thank goodness I stuck in, put my head down and got on with the job.  Six years later I have a presentable novel.

In truth I must have written six novels just through editing!  I would be pleased for all my writing colleagues to leave a comment on their experiences in editing.  I think it would be most helpful to everyone who reads this blog to learn from your personal mistakes and how you got through in the end.

Many thanks to everyone who contributes.

Just a little footnote added on 11 November.

I am almost there now, BUT I used to teach adults and we taught discovery learning.  I love this method, the information goes in much deeper than being told what to do.  I might have taken six years to write my first novel but the method of discovery learning has provided me with a much better understanding of the methods and skills needed to write a book.

For those of you who want to know how it works – it’s the art of just doing something, discovering how it works and to see if you can find a way of making it work better on your own.  In a way you don’t need a teacher to tell you what to do – but you will need a mentor to provide the benefit of their experiences.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “EDITING YOUR NOVEL

  1. The trickiest part of editing for me is… when is done, done?! I think I could keep tweaking forever, left to my own slightly-ocd-devices…

  2. Yes I agree you have to decide -‘Right this is it no matter what’ and start sending it out. Just had a rejection today but every agent says different things so you have to stick with your own decisions. Only when there is a correlation between agent comments must you do something about it. Do you agree?

  3. Hi Lin, I’ve been writing and editing my book for several years and I’m hoping it’s almost there – hope to send to an agent in November. I’ve got a spreadsheet with all my scenes on and I highlight them in different colours and make notes next to them on what needs doing. This is helping me get through the final few scenes of my book before I read it through one more time! If I find a scene isn’t working, I leave it and move on then come back to it – I find that scene comes together in my mind when I’m driving/ walking/ cooking etc then I go back and put it right. Best of luck with your book. Anita x

  4. Hello Lin, some years ago I read a book titled: ‘Get that Novel Started’ (btw also once wrote a post about it on my blog) and did a little Research for writing a Novel.

    During that research I discovered that – although I can imagine that I might possibly enjoy working on a big project like a Novel – that I can’t imagine to practically actually keep on working on projects as big as a Novel for such a long time. Especially when it involves Editing,

    Since I can’t imagine to see myself commit to work for a long time on a whole Complete Novel, I currently mainly am a Blogger and once in a while try my hands on a Short Story. (on my – Writer’s Lifestyle – Blog I have a few of them on a special page with ‘Short Stories in Developement’) Also I sometimes work on all kinds of ideas and concepts, and sometimes I have an idea for a Synopsis of a Story with sometimes a few scenes actually written. Only ‘Partials’ no ‘Completes’

    Currently I don’t even like to Edit the tiny little Short Stories that I put out on my blog. Only recently when I helped with writing somebody with writing a letter I discovered that I sometimes can enjoy editing. It reminded me about how years ago I had a collegue that checked my writing while I checked his writing, I do think that that worked pretty well, because I noticed that I had a lot more trouble at finding mistakes in my own writing (and also just didn’t like to ‘Kill my Darlings’) while I had not that much trouble in finding mistakes in other peoples writing that makes it so much easier to detach from.

    So possibly it’s better to just find somebody that you can possibly
    ‘Swap Novels’ with, somebody else that also has a somewhat
    similar size Novel that needs editing? That might be a less costly solution than hiring an Editing service? Only I don’t know how common this is amung writers, how to organise something like that and who owns the copyrights and things like that.

  5. I’m one of those rare beasts who loves editing, mainly because while I’m writing the book I’m constantly worried I won’t be able to finish it or that the plot will fall apart. Writing a good scene is tremendously exhilarating but I find tweaking a scene that was OK into one that’s really quite good (well to me anyway) is even more satisfying.
    I think when editing you have to trust your own judgement, at first anyway. It is your book, and you know how you want it to be. By all means give it to other people to read to check for plot holes, and where the writing and story telling is weak but if you don’t agree with what they say leave it as it is. My husband told me the first chapter of one of my books simply didn’t suit the the tone of the rest of the novel and after a fortnight of grumpiness I finally agreed with him and rewrote it. But I refused to make another change that he suggested. That was Something Stupid which was turned down flat by 10 agents, and picked up immediately by the 11th who sold it within a week.
    Most of the ten agents who rejected it said the same sort of thing, didn”t have anything that made it stand out, the eleventh said she loved it from the first paragraph, so it’s very much horses for courses I think.

  6. I sent my novel to a copy editor, who I found through the society for proofreaders and copy editors website. http://www.sfep.org.uk/
    I can’t remember how much it cost, it was a few years ago now, but it was around £200 to £300. He was one of the cheapest, I had to call around a few people before I found someone I could afford.
    It was well worth the money, he pointed out continuity errors, factual errors, grammar and spelling mistakes, and made a few comments about the story as a whole.
    I do think, after editing it yourself, you still need a fresh pair of eyes to look over your MSS.

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