Updated: Jul 24, 2021
So, writing a novel takes a lot of work. You know what takes more work than that? Editing the damn thing. I reeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaally hate editing. I also love it too. Allow me to elaborate.
Since I’m going to first shop around my debut novel, and then self-publish it after thirty-five rejections, I decided to clean it up and give it to beta readers before even sending it out to be bought by one publishing house or another. Because of this decision, and because I’m somewhat of a masochist, I figured I should edit it myself, with help from Grammarly.
I’ve gone through three rounds and am now starting the fourth. It’s tedious, but I’ll explain the process to a) help anyone who’s unsure where to start when it comes to editing, and b) give you some dry ass reading material to help you fall asleep instead of counting sheep.
Step 1: Upon completion of the final period, I vowed to give myself a couple months from the novel to let it sit and stew. No such luck. After two weeks, I dove in head first, and began reading it from the top, cleaning up sentences, adding or subtracting commas, and generally just giving it a coating of lacquer (those of you who’ve built a deck in a country with inclement weather will understand what I mean). Since I use “Google Docs” to write, I also took the time to make notes in the margins about how characters looked and acted. I updated these thoughts upon my character sheet for future reference during step 2.
Step 2: Here thy lie tedium. This time, I started from the end and slooooooooowly walked my way back, only looking at the margin notes. When I spotted one, I’d read it and then apply that specific trait to that specific character: If the note said they had grey eyes, I’d ‘control f’ that character and ensure that they had said eye colour. If they worked their jaw during stressful times, I’d go back and ensure that blah blah blah. This part took up the better part of a month. It required double and triple and quadruple checks. Finally, I was done, and it was on to step 3.
Step 3: I re-read the entire damn thing. Again. This time, I paid particular attention to the passive voice while also cutting out any unnecessary words. While step two made me want to claw my eyes out, step three was fun, but fucking hard. What writer wants to cut anything out of their work? Every writer should have the confidence that what they’ve created is the best thing in the world; otherwise, what’s the point of sending it out? Thinking and knowing are two different animals, however. This step was my scalpel. I had to dissect each phrase and ensure each word was concise and needed; the complete antithesis to how I write my blog posts, I might add.
Step 4: Grammarly. Awwwww yeah! You great, life-saving tool! You bastion of excellence! Without you, I’d be nothing. This is the final step I’m embarking on before giving up my creation to others (firstly the wife, the voracious reader that she is). It’s a quick clean up but an integral step. Grammarly is my idiot check; it’ll make sure I wrote ‘and’ instead of ‘an,’ and other stupid mistakes that my brain skips over (cause it knows I’m an idiot).
Well. That’s it. I hope that this was helpful, or it put you to sleep. Either way, my job here is done, and this blog post will self-destruct in infinity minutes (cause the internet always remembers).