So you’ve finished writing your first draft of your novel and now you want to edit. First, take a moment to celebrate your achievement. You just wrote a book! To be fair, it’s in a terrible state right now, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be! That’s why we edit!
But now you want to know what to look for when you’re editing your novel.
First things first, do not get bogged down editing teeny tiny things like grammar or word choice because you don’t know what scenes are even going to make it to the next draft – so don’t waste your time! Here’s what you can start with:
Are there any glaring plot holes in your story? Any weird inconsistencies? Maybe you forgot to explain how your character ended up in an entirely different place. Or perhaps it doesn’t make sense for your MC to get the Sword of Destiny so easily.
Readers want to read about characters who grow and change over the course of the novel. And they don’t want to read about a stereotype. So take some time during this edit to flesh out your characters. Make sure they’re responding to their world in a way that’s true to them, make sure they have flaws, ask how they grow throughout the novel.
Here’s where it’s important to not get bogged down on editing the small stuff because you are going to cut some scenes out of your novel! Unnecessary scenes include backstory that’s irrelevant to the plot or character arc, scenes that do nothing to move the plot forward, and scenes that are repetitive.
In a similar vein, are there any scenes missing from your novel? Adding missing scenes will have to do with filling plot holes or fleshing out characters.
Telling instead of showing moments.
Every author has heard the phrase ‘show don’t tell.’ It’s extremely annoying, but also extremely true. Novels are interesting for the clues authors give to their readers to gain a better understanding of what’s happening. And it’s way more artistic to describe how a character’s facial features changed than to just say they’re sad. So as you’re editing your novel, find the moments where you’re telling your reader what’s happening or what to feel, instead of showing them through description.
Don’t get discouraged by how much work there is to do after writing your first draft. First drafts are supposed to be messy and weird and generally not good. And your first round of edits likely won’t lead to a finished draft either.
But put in a little bit of hard work, and you’ll be well on your way to a great novel.
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