Methods of Editing Your Manuscript, Part 1

In the upcoming posts, I’m going to discuss the methods and steps I’m using in my process for editing my manuscript.

I’ve been so busy editing that I haven’t taken the time to write about editing. For those of you who don’t know, July is the second round of Camp NaNoWriMo for the year. I’ve decided to use this month to get through editing my first draft since you can set any kind of goal you’d like, whether it’s words, time, or pages.


The first method or step of editing my manuscript is doing an initial markup pass.

I initially set a goal of 30 hours. I didn’t know how long this would take for a 50k word novel, but it was helpful to start off with a goal and have a Cabin of writers through Camp NaNoWriMo for support and motivation. I hit my 30-hour mark a few days ago, despite being on vacation for 11 days of this month.

My goal was a little vague for what I wanted to accomplish since I’ve never gone through this editing process before. I made it through marking up the first draft with red pen and sticky notes, but my 30 hours didn’t allow for me to actually make the changes on the computer. Above is an example of what my pages look like.

As you can see, I prefer doing this manually versus on a computer.

It’s so much nicer to sit down on the couch and cuddle up with a blanket. Sure, you can do this with a laptop, but there’s something to be said about seeing and feeling your hard work with your hands. However, the next time I print it out, I’ll make sure I have page numbers, and I’ll likely do double-sided and double-spaced.

I also keep a notebook by my side to jot down any notes that I have, like overarching concepts or themes I want to refine in later drafts.

I also note here any continuity issues so I can make another pass later and be sure that I’m catching everything.

An example I found was that my main character had a staff in the first chapters, but it disappears after that. I went back and had to decide as to whether I should just remove the staff or give it significance. I decided to make it significant, and it completely changed my character. I made a note to myself that I have to go back and insert the staff at strategic points in the novel.

I’ve also revamped a love story, changed the ending two or three times, and found a lot of places where I can cut scenes that didn’t make sense or add to the story. I found many places where I can also enrich the world and characters. This may end up doubling my word count, which I didn’t expect.

As I’m editing, I’ve been reading “The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know” by Shawn Coyne.

Image result for the story grid

It has given me inspiration for changes that need to be made and has helped me lay the groundwork for my next phase of editing. I’ll talk more about this in a later post.

My story has changed so much and so unexpectedly that I need to go through and create an outline of my book to rearrange, add and delete scenes since everything has now gotten a bit unruly.

I’m doing my outline in the form of index cards, and I have particular information I’m adding to these cards partially based on The Story Grid.

While it’s a good book, I’m only using the parts of it that seem useful to me. In my next post, I’ll show you my cards once I have them written up.

I’ve written the first seven scenes/cards so far to start the novel, and these are scenes that weren’t even in the first draft! The premise has changed slightly, which necessitated me starting and ending the story in a whole new way.

I didn’t think I’d enjoy the editing process. I put it off for over 6 months and was dreading it. Now I love it, and I eagerly go to the page every day. I’ve found that editing requires as much creativity, if not more, than the initial creation of the novel. It also requires a lot of thinking analytically, which appeals to me as well.

The editing process has been a learning experience, and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn with every novel I write.



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