On Monday, Lauren Boyd told us a little about her experience editing her first novel. Today she's back to tell us what she's learned in the process. Thanks for being here, Lauren!
I submitted my manuscript to thirteen agents and editors in early January. I know the finished product was much better than my first draft because of that final edit.
But I bet if I went through the manuscript again today, I’d still find things I could tweak and make better.
That’s because, if you’re like me, you’ll finally have to get to the point where you feel good enough about your manuscript to make the call that you’re done. Otherwise, you could be editing it for years in an attempt to get it “perfect.”
Plus, putting a limit on how many times you edit your work is good practice for when you get a publishing contract. Because once you’re under contract on a manuscript, the publisher doesn’t give you years to write and edit the next one. Maybe a few months.
As Julie has said on her blog before, editing can require more undivided attention and unbroken concentration than writing. Now that I have had the experience of writing and editing a novel, I see what she means – and I completely agree. Editing a novel is an arduous, tedious, sometimes exhausting task. Editing a novel requires a lot of perseverance because the manuscript is so long and because every piece of it has to work together to be cohesive, to make sense, and to be believable.
In conclusion, I learned a few things while writing my first novel that I hope will help you in your writing (if you don’t already do these things). I know I’ll be doing them next time:
1.) Make a plan. Before you begin writing, figure out where you’re going, especially if your manuscript will be significant in length. Write down your ideas in whatever way helps you the most: an outline, brief notes, or a lot of information about what each chapter will include. I’m sure there are people who write well without a plan. But, as it turns out, I’m not one of them . So I’ll be making a plan next time.
2.) Fresh eyes find errors. I mean your eyes. Take a break from your writing for several hours, or pick it up again the next day. Chances are, when you come back to it, you’ll easily find things that could be better written.
3.) A second opinion is important. You might think you have a masterpiece on your hands – and maybe you do! But you would still be well-served to have at least one friend, significant other, or fellow writer read and edit it. You’ll probably be surprised at (and grateful for) the things they find. And their edits might mean more work for you, but that’s okay – because if they noticed a glaring problem when they read it, an agent or editor would, too. So you might as well go ahead and fix it now – before you submit it.
I think the bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter so much when you edit, as long as you do edit.
And by the way: As I edited my first draft, I cut and pasted material that I wasn’t sure I wanted to use into a new Word document – just in case I did ultimately decide to use it. Some of it I did indeed use.
But 16,324 words of it I didn’t.
My lesson here? I need to do a final edit – even if I think I’m editing as I go.
What have you learned from your writing and editing experiences?
Lauren Boyd blogs about writing at www.laurenspathtopub.blogspot.com. There, she offers thoughts about writing based on her own experience and research of the publishing industry. Hopefully, her musings will help you. If you enjoy her blog, please visit often!