Hello gentle reader,
6 weeks into ROW80, I am happy to announce that I have had a breakthrough in my self-editing process. As a reminder, my goal for this ROW80 is to edit my YA Fantasy manuscript The Last Queen and to have a final draft for it by the end of June.
So, up until this week I wasn’t very organized to self-edit my novel: I knew I had to cut 20K words and tidy up the whole thing, but the way I went about doing it was quite random and unsystematic.
But this week, I decided I had wasted enough time playing around with my MS and being inefficient. It was time to be professional and serious about this self-editing process.
It was time to slay some bad writing habits and come up with a shiny, edited and readable manuscript.
Today I am going to share my method to self-edit my novel, as maybe some of you, fellow would-be-published writers out there, are still struggling with this process.
Step 1: Finish the first draft of your novel. Your book has a beginning, a middle and an end. Congratulations on making it this far. Now put the manuscript away in a drawer for at least a couple of weeks and celebrate.
Step 2: Recover from celebration. then read two amazing books on the craft of writing.
How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
This one is not only a hilarious read, but it will also help you reflect on the main aspects of your novel: the plot, the characters, the setting. It is a great way to evaluate if your book has cartoonish villains, a plot so complex even you have lost track of it, or a setting so clichéd it will make any publisher nod off.
Self-editing for fiction writers by Browne and King
This second book is great for the next step of your self-evaluation: it will help you see the mistakes you have made regarding style, dialogue, points of view, beats, proportion and repetitions.
Once you have read those two books (or others like them), you can move on to…
Step 3: Know your strengths.
These you will know from experience and from the feedback of your beta readers. For example, I know that I don’t really need to amend the plot and characterization in The Last Queen. Devising a complicated plot that falls into place by the end is what I know to do best. Once you know what is great about your novel, you can focus on amending what needs to be edited, rather than wasting time fiddling with characters that are already well-written.
Step 4: Know your weaknesses.
From your readings, you should know by now what is probably not that great in your Beloved Manuscript. One of my main problems in The Last Queen is repetition. For you, it might be settings that are too detailed, lengthy paragraphs with boring content, and so on. Just know what they are. Because it is only then that you can…
Step 5: Make a checklist of what you want to edit in your novel. Edit your novel.
I love lists. They are a great tool when you self-edit as you can have yours by your computer while you read through each scene/chapter. Read each scene, and check it against your list of mistakes. If you have committed any, you edit, then move on to the next scene.
Step 6: Finish self-editing your Precious Manuscript. Celebrate some more.
Step 7: Repeat Steps 5 and 6 a few times before thinking about sending your Masterpiece to an agent.
That’s it for me. How are you other ROW80 writers doing?
Here is the Linky for the other check-in posts.