Written by Sarah Yoon

BoatInBushesEditing a book is a monstrous process. Many dreamy eyed romantics start their novel with gusto and struggle to the finis, only to realize just how much work it’ll take to make a 50,000 to 90,000-word manuscript readable and enjoyable. Your first draft is written mostly for yourself; that’s basically all anyone can do in the first go. You’ve told your story, but now it’s time to communicate with others. Before you jump into editing, here are three important tips to help streamline the process:

  1. Dedication

If you just survived NaNoWriMo, you’ve already got a great start in discipline and dedication. You set a goal, and you met it. Huzzah! But as Elaine explains in “Your 9 Step Post-NaNo Resurrection,” you can’t stop at the end of the race and curl into the fetal position. This is your chance to maintain good habits, plan ahead, and set goals. Each will help you keep forward momentum. You can show your love and dedication to the story through action. The best writers don’t talk up their stories; they put their heads down and type away.

  1. Strategy

Planning and setting goals takes careful strategy. You need a battle plan before you jump into your second draft. Strategy will keep you from getting overwhelmed. You don’t need to make each page perfect in one editing spree; you’ll drive yourself crazy if you even try. Take your time and target one element at a time. The process breaks into three big chunks: the developmental edit (aka macro edit), the line edit, and the copy edit (the last step before proofreading).

Though writers have varying titles for these edits, the processes are basically the same. You work from larger edits, plot and structure, down to the minutest details. If you reverse the order and perfect your prose before your character has a complete story arc, you’ll have to redo much of your work. Understanding how to implement each phase will save you time and energy in the long run.

  1. Community

However tempting it is to go it alone, writers need a support system. Community gives you encouragement, drive, and constructive criticism. Your most immediate community is family and friends, but they may not be the people who can help you most. Many writers complain about family who don’t understand their writing and give vague encouragements. Hearing “Good job! You worked so hard!” doesn’t help at all. On the other hand, receiving genuine criticism can be just as difficult, because you don’t have professional boundaries built into your communication.

With this in mind, test potential readers with a shorter section of your work—the first chapter, maybe—and see how well you communicate over your work. If it doesn’t work out well, thank them for their efforts and expand your search. Reach out to communities that are specifically designed for writers. If you want to read more about networking and creating a creative community, read “The Art of Collaboration” and “Relational Networking.”

Stay tuned for a strategic breakdown, so you can plan your own developmental, line, and copy edits!

If you’re in need of an editor, feel free to contact Sarah Yoon for rate and service details.

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