So right now I’m in the process of editing my Nanowrimo novel. (If you’ll remember, back on November 30th I officially reached 50K – having started with nada, goose egg, the big o on November 1st.) *Basks in that sweet feeling of victory again*. My novel is still only about… 3/4, maybe 5/6 of the way done, however, and needs quite a bit of major plotline-tweaking.

Confession: I am not an editor. I always get it right the first time ( 😉 Just kidding!!). Not true, but usually I look at a rough draft and go “Okay, this needs to be changed… but how?”. Editing is not wired very well into my writer-brain.

Soooo, since I’m pretty helpless at editing, what did I do? Decide to post a blog post about how to better edit. Like a person with hydrophobia telling someone else how to swim! I was going through the tips on the Nano site and wanted to share with you the ones that really stood out to me. So, without further adieu, and in no particular order, here they are:

1. (One). Set the book aside, and sit and listen to that inner editor you’ve (tried? successfully?) silenced for so long.  Those “sneaking suspicions” and “gut feelings” about a boring scene, flat character, or cliché conversation are probably right! Write them down. Listen to them. If you want, wait and see if they match up to what other people say if you give your novel out to be critiqued. Now is the time to let your inner editor loose!

2. (Two). Make sure your main character is engaged in the story. Are they just observing, or are they feeling? Are they in the thick – “in the spotlight” (for your reader, in the story they might just be a chimney sweep) – or are they just skimming through? Challenge them. Stretch them. Give them fears that must be conquered or given into. Have them make a bad choice! There are few times the reader is more emotionally “into” the story then when the character is making a bad choice. We’ve all been there. “No, no, don’t do it!” Best way to get a reader hooked. 🙂

3. (Three). Make sure you’re describing with more senses than sight. Your character is smelling, feeling, tasting… so describe it. Bring things to life.

4. (Four). Read your book out loud. Very, very crucial. In my English class, we would form into groups and read aloud our drafts. Ofttimes we would discover awkward phrasing that wasn’t as obvious in black and white letters on paper. Reading aloud to a friend may be more comfortable than reading to empty air. If you prefer solitude, though, hole away in your room, or take a walk to a park and sit at a picnic table. With no one around. (If they do overhear walking by, they won’t be listening anyway. They’ll just think you’re a bit loony, talking to yourself. And hey, you’re a writer. Being labeled as loony comes with the job. 🙂 ) Okay right now the reading outside is not an option for me as it’s 18 degrees, snowing, and cold at my house! 🙂 But the point is – read your book out loud. Oh, and listen.

5. (Five). Don’t revise before you edit. This will save you a lot of time! In other words: move things around. Fix the plot holes. Cut, copy, paste, delete, add. Then edit. Fix the typos. Change the way the words flow. Otherwise you’re going to make a scene sound perfect, then discover deleting it altogether is actually what your story needs.

6. (Six). Make sure to get input from other people. No matter how much you listen to your inner editor, or slave over draft I and then II and then III with red pens, you cannot spot what other people can. Head to Ebay and buy some “thick skin” (cause you can buy anything on Ebay 😉 ). You’re going to need it – as some people will give you fluff that’s no help whatsoever – “Oh I loved it! Great job! Good book!” – and other people will tell you the truth. This part stinks. This part makes no sense whatsoever. And this part was so brilliant you remove it from your book on pain of death. 🙂 If your critique-rs are honest, you’ll be battered down. You’ll be lifted up and find the encouragement you needed to go on, and to make your book even better. Just remember to buy that thick skin – I believe it’s on sale now for $23.99. 😉

Well that’s the end of my advice (inspired from the Nanowrimo “Now What?” tips). Now I’m going to go and… try… to put them into practice. 🙂 So much more difficult to actually edit than to advise people how to edit! But I’m excited because I know no matter how hard or seemingly endless it is, in the end my book’s going to improve. I’m going to like it more. Readers will like it more. That makes me excited. 😀

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