How to Start Editing Your Novel

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You did it.

You typed that last word in that final pesky chapter, and your manuscript is complete. After what feels like months of intense labor, your book is done, and all of that hard work is behind you.

Or is it?

While it is a great feeling to finish the initial draft of a book, it’s important to remember that no book is ever complete without first being edited.

*Insert Groans Here*

Yes, editing can be a tiresome task, but it is an essential piece to the publishing puzzle. In fact, having a well edited book often means the difference between landing an agent and a book deal, or a sea of rejection emails.

So how do you get started editing your novel?

Take a Break
It can be tempting to start editing your work right after finishing the first draft, but taking a break from your story is for the best when it comes to editing. After finishing up your manuscript, step away from it for a few weeks, that way, when you do return to start editing, you can look at the book through new eyes that are able to catch more mistakes.

Do a Read Through
Before you begin editing even a single sentence, do a complete read through of your first draft. This reading will allow for you to take in the story as a whole before making changes, and give you the perspective that you need to fill in any missing pieces.

Make Comments
As you are reading through your first draft, keep a notebook nearby to write down any and all thoughts that pop into your head. Mark down where tenses are inaccurate, plot holes are creeping up, or dialogue is lacking depth. These comments that you make for yourself will be the backbone of the editing process as you dive deeper into your work.

Be Precise
While a book is a massive piece of work, it is necessary to keep a watchful eye on all of the little parts that make up the whole as you work through the initial steps of editing. Take the time in the beginning stages of edits to iron out any grammatical problems, spelling errors, and formatting issues so that your focus can be given to bigger, more complex editing needs later on.

The hardest part of editing your manuscript is simply getting started. By beginning with these small steps, you will be able to take ownership of your story, and prepare for the rest of your novel’s rewrites and revisions.

What are your best tips when it comes to the editing process?

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