Last week I felt a great deal of pride and accomplishment as I typed the final words of the first draft of my novel. It felt so good to know that I had just written over 50,000 words/20 chapters and got all of the plot that had been floating around in my head all typed up. But of course I am by no means finished my novel, and as much as I felt relief at finally get my entire story written down, I also knew I still had a big task ahead of me: editing.
The prospect of editing this novel is a bit scary, to be honest, since I wrote most of it without looking back, so I’m prepared for lot of typos and sentences that make no sense. In the past I have taken the approach of editing a lot as I write, constantly going back, revising and correcting. I decided to take a different approach this time around, mostly inspired by the NaNoWriMo process. So I wrote this novel without looking back, I let my muse take over and just typed, without worrying about typos and other writing disasters. Now I cringe to think what terrible descriptions, spelling mistakes and illegible sentences I will find as I proofread the finished product. Despite this, I actually think it is a good thing in a way because I will be proofreading with fresh eyes. Since I haven’t looked back since I started writing the novel it will be the first time I have read what I have written and hopefully this will mean I will more easily pick up on parts that need to be fixed.
I have a bit of a system for editing my novel, which is something else I am trying for the first time and so far I think it is proving to be helpful and efficient.
1. First I listen to the chapter on ywriter (since it has an option for the scenes to be read aloud). The voice lacks intonation and pronounces some words wrong, but it’s good being able to listen to the words read out and is helping me pick up on any typos (for instance, if I’ve written ‘form’ instead of ‘from’) or sentences where I’ve repeated myself. Sometimes when reading your mind doesn’t pick up on these errors, and even when reading aloud to yourself your mind reads as you think it should read, rather than what is written, so you miss those little errors.
2. As I listen to ywriter I fix up those errors as I go, but I also make notes on areas that need more description, more detail or need to be reworded.
3. After listening to ywriter, I go back and read the chapter in my head, making more notes. I’m using a colour-coding system: yellow highlighter for parts that need to be reworded; green highlighter for parts that need more description; purple highlighter for parts that need more detail (this is different to description – it means I need to add more content to the scene); and blue highlighter for parts where I believe I am telling more than showing. I also write any extra notes in red, such as ‘check if this part is consistent with the letter from the first chapter’.
4. I then go back and fix up all the parts I highlighted, adding more description/detail or rewording where necessary.
5. Finally, when I believe I fixed everything in the chapter, I read it aloud to make sure I haven’t overlooked anything and it sounds alright when read with proper intonation. Then it’s onto the next chapter.
With my shorter stories I usually like to print out the story so I can read the words on paper and scribble notes with pencil in the margins, but considering the length of this story, I decided to skip this step (too much paper and ink!).
I really want this novel to be perfect because I have every intention on sending it off to publishers. I’m in the process of proofreading and editing chapter four at the moment (I’m up to step four and procrastinating because there is a lot that needs fixing in this particular chapter). Once I finish proofreading and editing through the entire novel I am hoping to get a couple of beta readers to read through the entire novel. The role of a beta reader is to read through and pick up any spelling or grammatical errors/plot inconsistencies/character flaws/etc. Basically it means having a fresh pair of eyes looking over the story and giving a different perspective.
I’m really very excited about this novel 🙂