Don't forget to celebrate, too. You've
written a book and that's a huge achievement. It's time to reconnect
with your life outside of your computer screen. Pay special attention
to friends and loved ones who may have been neglected while you
bashed out your draft, have a glass of wine (or four), watch a film.
Maybe even (gasp) go outside.
Next, it's time to print it out and send
it to every agent in the phone book. Ha. That was, of course, a
It's actually time to enter the editing
process. This, like all aspects of novel-writing, varies from person
to person, but it can be broadly split into the following stages:
– Structural editing
– Close editing
– Final pass
To clarify, I count the editing process
as beginning once you have a workable draft. For some (lucky) people
that may be draft one. For me, it's draft two or three. For others,
it may be draft seven. We all do different amounts of rewriting as we
go along, varying amounts of planning, and have different ideas of
what constitutes a draft.
Personally, I consider a 'workable'
draft as something that is readable enough for you to give to
somebody else (such as a critique partner or friend) for their
So. The first stage is allowing your
manuscript to rest. This is so that you'll be able to read it with a
new perspective, better able to see the flaws and inconsistencies. If
you begin editing too soon after completing the draft, the chances
are you will read what you intended to communicate (as the story and
characters are still alive in your mind) and not what you actually
put on the paper.
In the brilliant On Writing, Stephen
King suggests leaving your book in a drawer for as long as you are
able, but at least six weeks. I know people who have settled on one
month as the magic 'resting' period, while others get itchy typing
fingers after a week.
In general, the longer you leave your
book, the more able you will be able to see it with fresh eyes. I
know that when I've re-visited abandoned drafts from a year or more
ago, it's like reading something that somebody else wrote.
If you have a tight deadline and are
unable to leave your book for very long, I'd recommend throwing
yourself into a new project to reset your mind as much as possible.
Next on the list is structural editing and I'll discuss that in part two. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I'll do my best to tackle them!