Writing a first draft of a novel is like being 6 years old, putting on a tutu and dancing round your living room. Editing it is like refining those dance steps until you can pass an audition for Swan Lake. One is fun, rule-free and anything goes. The other takes far more discipline and work, but the end result is a lot more satisfying!
I’ve finished the first draft of my next novel*, so it’s on to the editing stage. And this is what it looks like.
This is a breakdown of every chapter. It shows what happens, how the mystery grows and what character development takes place. This helps me see where the gaps are – it’s immediately obvious if there’s a chapter that’s all plot and no character arc. And then I add post it notes and highlight ideas.
I’ve also been asking a couple of people to read the manuscript at this stage and provide feedback. So far it’s been surprisingly positive, with readers particularly warming to the protagonist. I’ve found it especially helpful to interview people with personal experience of some of the big themes of the book, to make sure that what I’m writing is realistic.
I know that every writer has their own process for editing. So please, feel free to tell me your tips in the comments!
*If you want to know what the book’s called, go read my interview with Whispering Stories where I spill the beans on that!