You've finished your first draft - woo-hoo! You're excited, you want this book on shelves and read on Kindles NOW. Maybe you think it was a pretty good first draft and you could send it out to agents and publishers, after all, they have editors that will fix it up... right? Um, no. You want to give your story the best chance to be loved.
If you're anything like me, the first time you'll feel uncertain of where to begin with the editing process. There are lots of methods of editing to make sure you tighten your manuscript, here are the resources that I found most valuable:
1. Editing Courses
After I took on the How To Think Sideways course to help me write my first novel, I decided to try Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel online course. This was fantastic. I can not rave enough. Holly's course provided instructions and charts in step by step modules to take you through the most thorough and productive editing process. You will chart up characters, backstory, plot lines, themes and more. You'll understand the importance of each element as it is explained clearly to you. If you think you'd like to learn more about producing a finished manuscript, you can check the course out by clicking below:
The books I found the most helpful during the editing phase were:
Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon.
This book is also featured in my list: 13 Best Resources for Writers. It will help you take a rough draft and turn it into a well-written manuscript. I think it's a must have. I read through it for editing, but it also has a lot of helpful chapters about the creative writing phase. One key thing I picked up from this book was about Power Positions, I'd never thought before about the importance of the first paragraph, sentence and even word for each chapter.
Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell.
There is so much information about identifying your priorities in your manuscript and editing the elements of your story, that I suggest reading through it with a notepad and pen and writing down the dot point. Bell even helped me work out how to liven up slow passages (bringing in a man with a gun). You can read more about this book in a previous post: Read, Write, Drive.
There's no way around it. You need to put your manuscript down and give it some time before trying to edit it. Everything in there will still seem like a good idea right now, because you just wrote it. What can you do while it ferments? Plot out your next novel, try some creative writing exercises and READ. Read a lot of novels in the genre of your manuscript, with similar characters, or, aimed at the same age-market. You will pick up a lot of tips on structure, pace and characterisation just from reading these books. Keep a note pad and record the pages that show examples of well-written text that you could use to help your story. During my waiting phase for Dog Show Detective (as well as writing my next WIP), I read books from the Trixie Beldon series, books with dog characters and general cosy mysteries like Agatha Christie's. This is research (and it's fun).
Do you have a favourite editing resource you want to share with everyone?