When Editing Your Novel

Well, I have just done what I would like to call a Thunderballs approach to editing my Novel, Catch My Fall.

Why do I call it a Thunderballs approach? Because I’m a wizard with words, ladies and gentlemen. And because it was like God’s Testicles rained from the sky. That too.

Anyway, it consisted of me becoming hyper motivated and spending five or six days straight, glued at my desk for the duration of my waking hours, cutting and gouging at my masterpiece until it resembled a slimmer version of itself.

Seriously, that shit is tight!

Now, having taken on this endeavor, I have learned a few tips that I will now share with you, and my future self, because I could see myself forgetting. Much like the human brain, which deliberately forgets the pains of childbirth in order to keep women willing to go at it again – yeah, something like that.

I might forget.

So here are my tips! Take them as you will.

1. Go in there with the intention of culling at least 10% of your manuscript.
That’s right, delete every superfluous word you can find. Get rid of your adverbs, your prepositions, your unneccessary verbage. It’s hard sometimes – I can attest to the fact that any given sentence isn’t HALF as good without the word dangerously (insert any adverb here). I’m lying to myself. 90% of the time, it’s unneccessary. If you want to keep them 10% of the time, that’s ok. The rest of the time, cut that shit out!

2. Keep a notebook by your side.
While editing with the intent to cull it down, keep a notebook and make marks of things you want to add, want to check, work on, rework. I had a few moments where I thought, “Hey, I want to add this to that other part of the book I already passed.” I wrote it down. A couple times I considered whether a whole scene might be expendable for the better of the whole. Write a note, and a page number.
Now the reason I’m telling you this is not because I did it, but because I wish I had. The Page Numbers, that is. It was a real bitch to go back later and realize I had to reread three chapters to find the scene I was talking about. Be proactive. It spares you stress.

3. Read that shit ALOUD!
I finished the Thunderballs edit and went back to fine tune the few things I was considering reworking, and after editing, copying, pasting, reworking this whole chapter to get it perfect, what did I do? I read that shit out loud to make sure it flowed. As a result of reading aloud, I cut another 300 words.
Well FAHK!
Why didn’t I think of reading aloud sooner, you ask? Well, I’m a Mom and had an eight year old meandering through the room while I worked everyday, so reading aloud wasn’t convenient. Now that I am in the house alone, I see the error of my ways. Who knows what else I might chuck in any given sentence if I just listened to the sound of my own face stumbling over the god damn wording.
Oh well, it isn’t my problem right now. I’m done. Content.

If any further edits need to happen, I will give myself a few days of rest before I start at another round.
Though I’m not feeling TOO bad. If I was able to plow through my massive tome in just a few days AND found the process of rereading it enjoyable, it can’t be too bad, eh?

Still… give me a break before I have to go back for more. Thank you.



2 thoughts on “When Editing Your Novel

  1. I do an intense revision outline, making sure to close off all plot holes, that something develops in every chapter, and that all inconsistencies are cleared up. I also used to read it aloud, but it doesn’t work for me. What works for me is reading it regularly like a reader would because, for me, I spot more than if I try to read it like a writer would.

  2. Pingback: Rule #3 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever | Jennifer M Eaton

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