Editing: Tips and Advice

Well, NaNoWrimo is officially over. Not only did I complete my word count goal at 80,856 words, I  also finished the novel. Yes, it was hard, yes, it was tiring, (one night I stayed up until midnight) and yes, it was worth it (I think). But seriously, let’s be real here. No one, except really passionate (and slightly crazy people) would attempt to write this much in a month. So, if you achieved this insane goal, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it! Also, let me know in the comments how you did!

Okay, so now that NaNoWrimo is officially over, you know what that means. Editing. Endless hours of making your project better! Some people think editing is boring or difficult. Some people like it better than actually writing the book. I am here to tell you my stance on editing and give you some tips to help tackle this daunting task.

I kind of enjoy editing. It means that I get to share my work with other people and get constructive feedback on it. I very much enjoy this. Also, I don’t have to plot or decide what happens next. I just have to make what already happened better! So, without further adieu, on to the editing tips!

Tip number 1- Many people say to let your work sit for awhile. To take a break from it. I personally don’t do this very often but it seems to help a lot of other people, so if this is your style, go for it!

Tip number 2- Don’t delete huge scenes. I know, I know “That’s what the editing process is for!” you say. But don’t do it. Instead, copy and paste the large sections you want to take out to a different file. This way it is out of your manuscript but if you decide that what you wrote to replace it isn’t working, you can just paste it back. This way if you change your mind you will not have lost all that work!

Tip number 3- Research. Make sure the things that happen make sense. You know that big scene you wrote where the main character got stabbed? Is he bleeding to death? Research it to make sure your character could really loose that much blood and survive. Make sure it feels real.

Tip number 4- Make sure your writing stays in the same voice and tense the whole time. Sometimes, writers can make the mistake of slipping through the second person to the third person or past tense to present tense in the same story. Make sure this doesn’t happen!

Tip number 5- Be ruthless. Make every sentence fight for it’s place on your page. If something doesn’t need to be said, don’t say it. Maybe even take out characters. In the past, I’ve had to delete a really good character in the editing process. It hurts. A lot. But it has to be done.

Tip number 6- Have fun. Remember, if you’re not having fun writing the book, chances are, the readers won’t have fun reading it either.

Tip number 7-  Read it out loud to yourself. This will give you the chance to hear how the sentences fit together. What flows and what doesn’t, where the incomplete sentences are, and when you have too many words describing that flower vase in the corner.  Maybe your characters are speaking in too many incomplete sentences. Maybe you’ve over used the word ‘said’ (even though you shouldn’t under use it either).

Tip number 8- Look at character development. I was my editing my NaNoWrimo novel and I realized that one of my characters was acting way different than she was in the beginning. And I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Just make sure the character development makes sense and stays true to the character while they are being molded.

Tip number 9- If you don’t have a title yet, now is as good a time as any to find one! Think about what your book is about and try to emulate that in the title. Look to things your characters said, sentences in your novel, or an idea in it, for title possibilities. For instance, in both of my completed novels, the titles have come from things the character said. The title should also in some way reflect the ideas, concepts, and/or basic plot of the book. The reader should be able to pick it up and have a vague idea of what it is going to be about based on the title.

Tip number 10- Have fun! Don’t let the editing process drag you down. You can do this! I believe in you. And at the end of this you will have a clean, new book to do what you want with, whether it be sending it off to the publishers, or setting it on your bookshelf to be read only by you and a few of your closest friends and family. Whatever happens after, you will have the pride of knowing you completed a book. Your very own novel.