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Finishing the first draft of my novel just made me realize how much more work I have to do in order to make it into something I can give to an editor and first readers.
[UPDATE 2020: Click here for how to find and work with professional editors.]
In the video below, I explain how I have started the editing process with a high-level review of the whole novel from a plot/character and world perspective.
Notes from the video in case you don't want to listen:
I am using the process suggested by Holly Lisle's “How to revise a novel” course which is excellent.
Holly warns you not to line edit at this point but to identify what you wanted to write in the first place, and what were the ideas that made you passionate enough to make it through first draft. Basically, consider the novel you wanted to write. I wanted to write a fast-paced thriller based on a biblical story set in the present day, with a global search, high stakes and high body count. I don't want to give too much away about the plot but I am pretty happy that the book overall does hit the mark I set for it. But I did find over 110 big areas of rewrite in order to make the plot, the characters and the world evoked more effective and more like I wanted the story to be.
Here are some of the main areas to improve on:
- Weaving back story in to make the characters more believable and make the reader care. I had created back story but not incorporated it well enough so in reading it, I realised that I hadn't actually told the reader about why this was important.
- Consistency of language e.g. I use the word pendant and stone interchangeably but it needs to be clearer. Also consistency of timeline.
- Points of view. I am using multiple points of view but sometimes I have merged them in the same paragraph which is a little confusing.
- Scenes and fast-paced plot. I have gone back through the manuscript and redone all the chapters into scenes which sometimes have several to a chapter. Fast pace also means short chapters so I have gone for scenes in order to rewrite coherently and then I will put back into chapters later.
- Locations. The book is set across multiple locations including Oxford, England; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Jerusalem, Israel; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Tabriz, Iran and some other very cool places. I have done some good descriptions interspersed with action and some very bad ones! The contrast makes this very clear so I definitely have rewrites for those areas.
That's just the high level areas! I am basically going to do the rewrites at this level first and then tackle the more detailed rewriting once the coherent story hangs together in the way I want.
I can see how outlining is critical for professional authors who write a number of books per year. In re-outlining my scenes, I know I could have written faster with the outline I have now.