How To Edit A Novel

In my life, I’ve written six  novels:

The State of Being Unmarried
Not Quite Myself
No Collar Criminals

Legend of Apollo
Cavern of Youth
New War Order (being edited)

Though I’ve acquired a lot of experience over the years, I learned the most when I began the Barcode Series. It’s not just because I have to keep information in my head for each story or because I have to make each book in the series more interesting, it’s because of two editors: Roxanne and Julia.

Roxanne and I fit together like two nerdy pieces to a puzzle. The second I read her bio, I knew she was the one. I was her first full length novelist and she was my first editor. We struggled through LOA and made mistakes along the way, but it’s because of her that I’ve grown so much.

Julia and I butted heads a lot. Not in the >_< I hate you kind of way. We simply had two styles of writing so we kept running into each other. It was perfect. I learned so much from her in a matter of days, I can truly say that I’m a better writer for it. She gave me advice on the simple (more important) things I’d miss out on because I was too focused on the larger picture.

What am I saying?

First, if you’re writing, you need an editor. But before that, you need to send a quality manuscript. The first document I sent Roxanne was shit. It was the paper I should’ve wiped more carefully. However, because I made so many mistakes, I learned how to make stronger first drafts.

What am I saying?

Make stronger first drafts. In order to do that, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. My weakness is skimming over the entire document. I like editing from front to back because it helps me connect with the story, but its WRONG.

Edit and re-edit.

The way to do that is to skim a chapter and go back and edit it page by page. Then, edit it paragraph by paragraph. Finally, edit it line by line. Keep reading it over and over again until you’re sick of it. You’ll get sick of your own story, but that’s what you want.

The reason you need to get sick is because you’ll see reoccurring mistakes. For example, I use “before”, “so”, and character names excessively. I also try spelling out things for the reader too much. Every time I reread I cringe and scream, “Whhhhhhhhy!” How freakin’ dumbed down can I make a book? Very, it seems.

However, Roxanne gave me the best advice: “Hey, stupid. Stop thinking the reader is stupid. It’s making your book stupid long.” Those are her exact words, but I think it represents the frustration she felt inside.

Using her advice, I made a 116,000 word novel 97,000 words. Big difference.

My big advice is to reread! Various readers are going to pick up your book. Because they didn’t write it, they have no attachment. Don’t make them get sick of your mistakes. You should read your manuscript so much, you’re ready to vomit in your significant other’s face! By sig other, I mean your computer because there’s no way you’re writing a novel and making love to a living/breathing human being. There’s not enough time for that. Not enough time!

In summary, to edit a novel you should:

Remember everything and don’t skip details
Improve with each book
Get a damn editor
Send them a poop free manuscript
Edit and re-edit 

2 thoughts on “How To Edit A Novel

    1. I can’t remember your exact words. They were closer to, “Stop breaking things down for the reader. The book is already long enough.” BUT STOP EDITING MY NOVEL UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Goes to show you that my writing is only engaging with alcohol.

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