One of the biggest editing secrets is that it has to be done, and it’s a long and involved job.
Once you’ve written your first draft the next stage of the process is to edit your manuscript. You need to go over it, probably many times, before it can be called a completed manuscript.
If we continue the analogy of the novel being like a sculpture, the first draft leaves you with just a roughly shaped piece of clay. You now need to smooth over all the rough bits, take out bits you don’t like, add needed bits and put in all the detail.
This can be tough and arduous, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a long process. But it can be very satisfying to see the novel come together.
And in many ways it’s the nicest and easiest part of the process. This is because you have your novel there to work on – it exists, it just needs moulding and refining. There isn’t that awful blank page feeling which you’re faced with on the first draft.
There’s huge satisfaction in arranging the scenes in their perfect order, in phrasing a sentence just right so it says exactly what you want to say in the way you want to say it, in bringing scenes to life with the right touch of description.
Another one of those editing secrets is that you’ll actually welcome the input of your Internal Editor. You know the one who was – it seemed – trying to sabotage your writing during the first draft. As you’ll read (or have read) in Writing Your First Draft you had kept your Internal Editor quiet with the promise that it would get its turn. Well, that turn is now here. And you’ll find this Internal Editor an invaluable help in the process, because that’s what it’s good at.
Having said all that, there is a lot you need to get right. To make it easier to do, I’ve compiled an editing checklist for you to follow to make sure you’ve forgotten nothing.