I’m nearing the finish line for the first draft of my WIP – just two chapters left to write. Eight scenes, eight or nine thousand words. Should be done sometime next week. And then . . .
The dreaded edit. Now, seeing as how this is my first novel, I’ve not been through the editing process before. A lot of writers I’ve read on the subject seem to treat it as a necessary evil – but evil nonetheless.
But I’m not sure why – I’m actually looking forward to it. There’s a whole host of scenes in my novel – probably the majority, actually – which I haven’t read once since I wrote them. I can’t wait to go back and see what I put down, pull it apart and make it better.
That’s the claim now, anyway. I could get down to it and discover I loathe the process as much as the next guy. To give myself the best chance of getting the job done properly without ending up hating myself or (worse) the book, I’ve laid out a series of edits I’m going to do. In order, from macro to micro, major to minor.
Here’s my list – maybe it’ll prove useful to others:
- Background World Building. Is there enough ‘scenery’? Enough references to exciting races, conflicts, empires that have risen and fallen, to hint at the kind of breadth and depth of history that a fully conquered galaxy in the far future would have?
- Plot Arc. Are all plotlines consistent, and either tied off or explicitly left open? Is the internal logic solid? Do the protagonists react to developments in a realistic way, that isn’t just moving the story along?
- Enough Conflict. Is there conflict – external and internal – regularly spaced throughout the novel, building up to an exciting climax? What about at the end of scenes – is there a mix of middle-of-the-action ‘cliffhanger’ endings (rising tension) and completed-action, rounded-off endings (falling tension)?
- Character Arcs. Do all of the characters develop according to the arcs I laid out for them before writing? Or maybe they’ve developed differently to how I predicted – which is fine, but is the development consistent and realistic?
- Check Flow and Tighten. Check dialogue flows naturally. The beat-to-beat makes sense. Replace narrative with dialogue where possible and sensible. Cut out any obvious padding or unnecessary exposition. Tighten everything that’s left.
- Word or Phrase Repetition. Avoid it!
- Improve Prose. Is there enough scene setting, while avoiding florid over-description? Cut clichés.
- Consistent Character Voice. Check that every character in the novel maintains a consistent tone of voice throughout.
- Retighten. Self-explanatory.
- Spelling, Grammar and Typos. Go through with a fine-toothed comb, and give it that final polish.
Any more suggestions to add to my edit list?