I am currently halfway through editing the first draft of my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter. As many of you know, I wrote the novel in 30 days, during NaNoWriMo 2014. I took December off to rest and gain some emotional distance, and I began the editing process on the fifth of January.
Because there are about a gazillion definitions of “editing,” let me tell you exactly what I have been doing. Basically, I am reading the chapters one by one and looking for several areas to fix. At the highest level, I am tracking the pace of my novel and the plot structure. At the middle level, I am ensuring that my character descriptions, character personalities, setting descriptions, and world rules are consistent. At the lowest level, I am re-structuring confusing sentences, fixing poor word choice, and correcting any typos I happen to notice. For more details, you can see my full editing plan here.
Right now, I am going through the printed manuscript with red pen and physically writing in my notes. At the latest, I intend to be finished with this part the first week of February. The next step will be diving into the Scrivener document and re-writing/fixing everything on the computer. After that…well, let’s get through the self-editing for now.
So far, I have a lot of mixed feelings about the editing process. However, I am enjoying it and have already learned quite a bit about myself as a writer. To put it simply:
What I Like About Editing
- It reminds me of being in my university creative writing classes.
- It allows me to use skills from college.
- It’s really fun to read my story and see it from “the outside.”
- Knowing that I am actively improving my novel makes me very happy and excited.
What I Dislike About Editing
- It can be tedious.
- It’s not as fun as writing.
- It forces me to acknowledge my shortcomings.
- It takes away time from my other (more fun) creative activities.
What I Have Learned About Myself as a Writer (Pros)
- I write very cleanly. I’ve only found a handful of glaring typos.
- I am skilled at making sure that every scene progresses the plot and every chapter ends on a cliffhanger or important moment.
- The dialogue I write is nearly always clever and frequently funny. At least, to me.
- I will definitely have enough creativity, universe, and story left to write the next five books I intend for the series.
What I have Learned About Myself as a Writer (Cons)
- When I write actions after dialogue, I have a bad habit of using the wrong punctuation and treating them like tag lines.
- When I write descriptive paragraphs in the middle of a chapter, I have a tendency to use passive voice and do too much “telling.”
- Related, I need to add in more scenes to show/explain the rules of the world I created. Having the characters discuss these are not powerful enough.
- I cannot write a new first draft while I edit another manuscript. This is both due to time constraints and the fact that editing involves me too much in one world (and admittedly shakes my confidence from time to time). I’m hoping this will change as I gain experience as a writer and editor.
Undoubtedly, as I practice my writing and editing skills, I will learn even more of my individual writer truths. My biggest fear right now is that I will do my rewrite, feel incredibly confident, and then have a professional editor and beta readers rip apart everything I thought I did right. I know I won’t be able to catch everything, and of course I want an editor to push me and provide a strong critique (otherwise what am I paying for?), but I must admit, it’s a scary process.
However, for now, all I have to do is focus on the rest of my self-editing process. (If you can’t tell, I have a tendency to get too caught up in the next steps.) One chapter at a time, careful and steady. Only fourteen chapters to go!