Good morning, superstars. I hope you’ve all had a brilliant week.
For me, it’s been another week of editing. Does it ever end? With editing on the brain it seemed only appropriate for this weeks blog post to focus on editing. And so I’ve made a list of novel editing mistakes to avoid. Take a look…
1. Not editing
The first, and most simple point; not editing is the biggest mistake you can make. Hemingway didn’t tell us “the first draft of anything is shit” as a joke. Even if you are a writer who edits as you write, your novel will still need further editing. Perhaps not as much, perhaps just as much. But when you write a novel the story changes as you go, and mistakes and plot holes lurk in everybody’s early work. There is no shame in needing to edit. The greats all have to, and so do we.
2. Editing too soon
There is a list of do’s and don’ts for finishing a first draft. And that includes taking a break after finishing your first draft and not trying to re-read/edit straight away. If you dive straight into editing you will be blinded by your closeness to the story. You need a little time away so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes, which will allow you to spot issues far easier. I’m not sure if there’s a universal suggestion for how long you should take. Perhaps a month, though if you’re too eager to wait I would suggest at least a week.
3. Keeping scenes that don’t work
Is there anything more heartbreaking than realising one of your favourite scenes just…doesn’t work? Perhaps it hinders your protagonists progress, or slows down the pacing of the novel. Whatever the reason, it sucks. But if you keep these scenes just because you love them then you’re making a huge mistake. In my early edits I lost a scene that had been in my imagination for years, because it simply did nothing for the story. I tried keeping in another scene I loved, only for beta readers to confirm what I already knew; it wasn’t needed, it made no sense, it was repetitive…Sometimes you just have to let them go.
4. Not getting feedback
I mentioned beta readers in the point above. You should absolutely seek feedback and advice while you’re still in the editing process. This can be from friends and family, or from beta (alpha) readers. These readers should look at your work and offer you honest feedback. Yep, that DOES mean coming to grips with criticism. It is the only way to improve. If you don’t get feedback you only have your own opinion on what’s working and what doesn’t. You’re less likely to spot plot holes, as you know the ins and outs. You need impartial readers to tell you how it is.
5. Not reading your novel on a different device
It is amazing how reading your novel on a different platform to your computer/laptop can help you spot mistakes. I made huge editing progress when I decided to print my work in progress, and read it on paper instead of on screen. You could try printing yours too, or even reading it on a kindle gives you a new perspective.
6. Editing too much
Is there such thing as editing too much? I’m not sure. But part of me thinks that too much editing will surely take away the rawness of your story, and you don’t want to edit away your voice. You need to move on at some point, so make sure you reach a point where you think you novel is ‘finished.’ If your next step is to submit to agents/publishers, go for it. You’ll soon know if something isn’t working, and you may even receive feedback on what to improve going forward. Therefore, I’m not saying you will never edit your work again. But there must come a time where you bite the bullet and say, for now, enough is enough.
Are you editing your novel? Do you enjoy it?
I’m enthralled by the editing process and would so love to hear your thoughts on it. So please do comment, or contact me, to chat.