You’ve completed your writing project! What’s next? Whatever it is you’ve written (novel, short story, screenplay, etc.) agents and publishers will tell you, “Next step: Edit, edit, edit. And then edit again!” Let’s explore what editing really entails.
Did you know that there are several different types of editing? Yep, yep, let’s take a look.
- Edit for Efficiency
- Edit for Motivation and Clarity
- Revise the story to ensure a clear understanding of what is at stake, and what the main conflict of the story will be.
- Edit for Style Cleanup
- Edit for wobbles in your writing style.
- Proofread for Tiny Errors
- Your eyes get accustomed to your writing and tiny errors are missed.
- Beware of Jargon and Heavy-handed Writing
- Simple is almost always better.
- Fix Misused Words and Phrases
- Double check the word you’re using means what you think it does.
- Developmental Manuscript Evaluation (DME)
- Professional editors will read your manuscript and provide a thorough, helpful DME to address larger issues. Editors verify what’s important in your story: Indicate what writing needs to be compressed to help move the story forward: Make sure the reader gets the right material at the right time: Identify what characters are needed in your story: And ensure the villains pay off.
- Line Editing and Critiques
- Line editing aims to correct punctuation details, and catch awkward word use.
With gusto, I recommend both DME and Line Editing. I learned so much from both techniques, which strengthened my writing and editing style. Below I’ve written out the timeline and editing schedule I used for my novel.
JANUARY 2010 – JANUARY 2011: Wrote the novel.
FEBRUARY 2011 – APRIL 2011: Edited the novel myself. Reading through each chapter, I re-wrote sentences and added scene details. Anywhere a scene lacked character depth, I added brushstrokes to character’s personalities.
APRIL 2011 – SEPTEMBER 2011: Mailed the novel to my first editor for a DME. Note: A six-month long evaluation period is not normal. The feedback I received was very helpful. The editor pointed out holes in character development. For example: One of my characters, a mother of two, has a vital role in the story, but was missing scenes to really illustrate her vulnerable human side. Without the evaluation, I wouldn’t have thought to add more of these scenes.
OCTOBER 2011 – DECEMBER 2011: Wrote more words! Approximately 10,000 more of them. I added sub-character brushstrokes who’d, up to that point, been a bit ignored.
DECEMBER 2011: Sent the new version of the manuscript to a different editor for another DME. The notes I received were invaluable. Not only did I receive detailed feedback on where my writing tended to get heavy-handed, but I also got details about which characters were vitally important and which I should consider cutting. I also received feedback to re-arrange the first five chapters to get to the heart of the story faster.
JANUARY 2012 – FEBRUARY 2012: Back to the drawing board: compressing scenes, adding scenes, cutting characters and finding more character depth. The feedback and perspectives gave me ideas on how to grow and evolve the novel. (Seeing the manuscript blossom into a polished literary piece has been very exciting.)
FEBRUARY 2012: Sent the first half of the manuscript to be line edited. Line editing will always be beneficial for the pure and simple reason that human error exists. Writers are going to make punctuation mistakes, and that’s okay! Hire a line editor to clean up your novel’s tiny errors.
MARCH 2012: Second half of the manuscript was line edited. Reviewed and implemented all final editor notes.
APRIL 2012: And here we are today! April 2012, and my manuscript has been through the ringer! Two years, and two editors later, my book is polished and ready to go, and I am actively seeking representation! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed the information I’ve learned through my novel writing process! What are your thoughts? Have you gotten anything edited? Any recommendations or buyer bewares? Comment below!