How To Edit Your Novel

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

via pinterest
"It's been so must be fireproof / Cause nobody saves me baby the way you do"

Some of you may or may not know that I am editing my personal novel Finding My Balance at the moment. I intended to start at the outset of summer, and finish before the schoolyear began. Er, whoops. That didn't happen. Actually, from the first day of summer straight through to the first day of September, I probably found time to write thrice. Who would have thought summer would be busier than the school year?

All that aside, I have begun editing it now that school has brought things back down to a dull roar, and I thought I'd share my method with you. Just, you know, in case you would like to use it or it would be helpful. Or something like that.

The Editing Process

1. Write the novel.

2. Highlight your entire document bright, in-your-face, neon yellow.
The purpose of this (aside from blinding you) will be explained. Keep reading.

3. Find your favorite scenes and paste them into a seperate document.
For me, these were the prologue and the last two scenes of the book. These will stay untouched for a decent length of time until I have edited the rest of the book and can come back to them with a fresh perspective.

4. Edit.
One scene/chapter/page at a time, depending on the day, I copy and paste said section into a blank document and work exclusively at it until I feel it's reached its full potential (for the time being). Some scenes are hard, and I might need to save them seperately for a day or two while I work on them. The point is: don't put it back in the original document until you like it - every bit of it - and until it works.

5. The highlighting makes sense
because the edited scenes, after being pasted back into the original document in exchange for their former selves, will not be highlighted. The words-to-be-worked-on stick out like a sore thumb, and I don't accidentally skip over the scene that I also happen to dread working on. (Ahem.)

I should also add that I was not very far into the Finding My Balance rewrite when I found I could not edit in chronological order. This is okay. Write what you're ready to write (just don't forget about the hard scenes). 

Happy editing!


  1. Alright, this is scary. I do the exact same thing, and I always thought I was alone because when I was at a writing workshop I explained this process and everyone (ten people) thought this was the weirdest thing. So if I'm weird, its nice to know I have Compton. :D

    If you're ever in need of a beta reader for "Finding My Balance"...

    1. Brilliant! I, too, thought I was the only one.
      As much as I appreciate your interest, I'm not looking for beta readers at the moment. I'll keep you in mind for the future, though. :)

  2. You know, I do a similar thing on the semi-final/final rounds of edits on my stories. I turn the font red on anything that still needs fixing, and work my way through the red bits—not in order; I usually procrastinate on the hardest ones till the very end—turning the font back to black when I'm satisfied with that section. It is a good way to make sure you don't miss something.

    1. I think I would do red text, as it's perhaps less harsh on the eyes, but it's got a negative connotation for me. I can't help but think of marked up school papers every time I see it - and if I were to look at my book through that lens I don't think I'd want to touch it. XP So yellow it is!

  3. Oh, and I meant 'company', but my spell check is on a mission to make me look like an idiot. ; )

  4. Hi, Bree! Glad you're back :D. Nice post, I like your method, and I can see how it would be similar to mine as well. My only experience with serious editing, however, was on a short-story which I got published in an anthology and had to edit under the supervision of the editors - that was an interesting experience, and taught me so much about editing, and writing in general. All my other attempts at editing have been ones done while still in the process of writing the novel (I am a perfectionist by nature, am really rarely ever happy with scenes until they've been rewritten in five times!). But this method of editing is so good, I am going to have to try and remember to adopt this process, especially about the neon highlighting ;). I do that thing of copy-pasting a section/chapter I want to edit onto a separate document and working on it there rather than on the main body of the manuscript; that way it still preserves the original scene - unfortunately though this habit has allowed me to own dozens of random chapters of different versions, and the hardest thing is that I usually like something from each version, and hate other bits. TRICKSY!! :D

    I have begun editing it now that school has brought things back down to a dull roar . . . you know, I always tell myself how I will write so much more in the big summer holidays, and put in those huge plans. And of course, it generally turns out that I fit in more writing during the school-year than in those long-dreamed off holidays were all those plans fizzle out into vacation trips, housework, work-stuff, church-activities and social-life. Crazy thing. ^_^

    1. Editing is a tricky thing no matter how you slice it. I say do what works for you & forget about the rest! But you know that already. :)

      Summer does have a way of distracting more than any other time of year, but the this year I didn't even have that excuse. Blog designs, traveling, books to read - I can't say I didn't have a fantastic time of it, but writing managed to slip through the cracks & editing was a plain old 'no'.
      Ah well, autumn's returning and with it my penchant for productivity. Heigh ho for sturdy work schedules and routine!

  5. I love this method! I'm thinking I'll have to try it myself next time... :)

    1. Thanks Em! I've found it very helpful. :)


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