WHERE I'M AT SINCE MY LAST POST
Hi there! I am currently still on hiatus from writing and I honestly can't wait to get back to it. I have a busy busy publishing schedule for next year and I'm starting to squirm. I received my edits back for Sweet Enough and I can't wait to dive in and implement my editor's suggestions. I also can't wait to share this story with you next Fall AND share This is for You in May.
If you haven't yet, you can read the first two chapters of This is for You here
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WHAT YOU CAME FOR: 10 STEPS TO SELF-EDIT YOUR NOVEL
ALRIGHT! Get ready for a pretty -heavy on the info- post. I used these ten steps to go through Sweet Enough and from my editor's comments, I believe I did a decent job tightening up my story before sending it to her. I'm not sure I'm completely ready to not have a professional editor critique my manuscripts yet, but these ten steps have helped me become a much better self-editor.
STEP ONE: REST YOUR MANUSCRIPT
Every blog post I have ever read on this topic starts with this one. Do not disregard. I repeat. Do not disregard this. If you are anything like me, the minute you finish your first draft you feel a mixture of relief, a sense of accomplishment, and the strongest urge to burn it and never look back.
Okay, maybe that is a little dramatic, but its not far from the truth. I have learned to enjoy the time away from my novel. It means I get to focus on my next idea and design book covers I’ll probably never use.
Resting your novel gives you time to be somewhat of an outside perspective and look at your novel with fresh eyes for when you do decide to pick it back up and read through it.
I cringe a lot when I read my first drafts. And write “meh” in the margins.
STEP TWO: MAKE A CHECKLIST
When you submit your novel to an editor for a manuscript evaluation, they are looking at plot, structure, pace, character, subplots and any trouble areas like under development or repetition. When I submitted my first novel, My Lullaby of You to my editor, it was probably the fifth draft of the novel. I wasn’t entirely prepared for what comments I would receive back, but I had a feeling there was going to be a lot of rework involved and I was right.
It taught me what to look for in my next novel, though. I used my next novel almost like a guinea pig to see if I am capable of doing my OWN manuscript evaluation in the future. I still submitted this it an editor to test my theory and after getting back, I do believe I am much closer to preforming my own evaluation.
Here are some great resources that helped me form my own checklist:
STEP THREE: BRACE YOURSELF.
If you are starting to feel a little overwhelmed by all this, congratulations you are human.
It’s important to take things ONE STEP AT A TIME. I am the queen of jumping ahead and all at once, and it doesn’t end well. My suggestion is to stay focused and look for one thing at a time.
Read your novel and give yourself smiley faces in margins when you love a scene that works. ( My English teacher did this in high school and I thought it was clever.) Use sticky notes when a scene needs to be reworked or deleted or added.
Then read your novel and make notes about your characters.
Then read your novel and make notes about the settings.
Then read your novel and write down all the main plot points.
It might seem like it’ll take forever than just reading it once and doing all those things as you go, but it allows you to really get to know your story again.
STEP FOUR: GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE
Even if you are the most disciplined individual in the world, deadlines help. Give yourself a deadline for your evaluation AND for your rewrites implementing your evaluation.
Rewrites for my first novel took me a good six months. Mostly because I had to rewrite A LOT of it and second because I was terrified of it.
This second novel was a bit different, since I had gone through the process once before and now had a better handle on my capability to do rewrites without feeling like I’m ruining my story. Rewriting is tedious and probably my least favorite thing, but you will end up with a much better story that you are proud of.
STEP FIVE: READ IT ALOUD TO SOMEONE
I did this with my first novel and I cannot stress enough how much this impacted the story. When you read something aloud, a different part of your brain awakens and you get a sense for how awesome or how stupid something sounds.
I read my novel aloud to my sister, so I was comfortable enough to laugh at my own writing and so was she.
If you feel too vulnerable reading your novel aloud to someone, there are apps out there that can read it to you. You’ll still catch a lot of phrases and sentences that don’t make sense or can be worded better.
STEP SIX: DON’T GIVE UP.
Stick to the plan. Stick to the checklist. Don’t give up on your novel. Keep pushing through those rewrites. It is worth it.
STEP SEVEN: USE EDITING APPS
Read this article for a breakdown of some awesome editing tools and programs.
I've found Grammarly, Pro-Writing Aid, and the Hemmingway App to be the most helpful.
STEP EIGHT: GO THROUGH GRAMMAR
Even though you are planning on sending your novel to an editor for copy-edits. (DO NOT SKIP THE COPY-EDITS). It is worthwhile to do some basic grammar checks yourself to catch all the simple things. Otherwise you get your copy-edited version back from your editor and feel like you shouldn’t claim to know English or any other language.
STEP NINE: DOUBLE CHECK YOUR FORMAT
Make sure your draft is in Times New Roman. Font 12, double spaced.
Also, use page breaks for chapters and do not use TAB for your paragraph indents.
Here’s a great article to help you set up your document.
Really this step should be the first thing you do.
I wrote my first two books by hand and then typed them so there was no formatting whatsoever. It was not fun formatting after the fact. For my most recent completed draft, I wrote the novel in a pre-formatted word document so that I wouldn’t have to go through that again.
STEP TEN: SEND IT OFF
You are ready, my friend.
Take one last look at your novel and either send it off to get evaluated professionally (strongly recommend if it’s your first time doing this) or send it on to your trusty group of beta readers and get their opinion on the book.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I hope this gives you an idea of the steps involved in editing your own manuscript! Let me know in the comments or on Instagram or twitter if you have any methods that have worked for you! I love learning new things ☺
I'm Alia. A writer, reader, traveler, dreamer, and to do list maker. You'll find a little bit of it all here.