10 Tips to Editing Your Own Novel

Tip #1: You’ve finished the first draft of your novel. Congratulations. Take some time off and celebrate. No, really, I mean it. Set your novel in a drawer for at least six weeks. Do something else in the meantime. If you want, start another novel, go on vacation, read a book, visit friends, or spring clean the house. But resist the temptation to pick up that draft. This is the first and most important step to self-editing. You need to look at your work with a fresh eye.

The six weeks are over. It’s time to pull out that manuscript and get busy. Now what? Here’s some things that will help.

Tip #2: Read or review a self-editing book to remind yourself what problems you are looking for. My favorite is “Self-Editing For Fiction Writers” by Browne and King. Even if you’ve read this book before, you’ll need the reminders fresh in your mind.

Tip #3: Use find and replace to search out ly words and other problem words, and replace them when you can. See this link  for the problem words and this link  for how to get rid of ly words.

Tip #4: Print out a hard copy of your manuscript. Read it over using a red ink pen to make notes in the margins. It’s amazing what you’ll find when you read a hard copy.

Tip #5: After reading the hard copy, go back and make your changes.

Tip #6: Print the manuscript out again, find the red ink pen. This time, read your manuscript out loud using your red ink pen to mark changes that need to be made.

Tip #7: Now go back and make the changes again.

Tip #8: You guessed it. Print the manuscript out a third time. No, I’m not trying to kill trees. This is a very important part of the process. You need that hard copy in front of you when you’re editing.

Tip #9: Make the changes, and read through it two more times. You don’t have to print it out this time. But you might want to try reading it backwards so you can find common grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.

Tip #10: Have a small group of people to read over your finished product. You will need at least one grammar expert in this group. The other members can be a couple of people who love to read and a writer or two who will give you a hard critique. See this link for how to have a critique help your writing. Make any needed changes you agree with.

Now you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back. Then get busy and write a query and proposal, and research those literary agents and publishers.

A writer’s work is never done.

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This entry was posted in Editing, Sharpening Our Writing and tagged , , by Tamera Kraft. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamera Kraft

Tamera Kraft has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She is also a writer and has curriculum published including Kid Konnection 5: Kids Entering the Presence of God published by Pathway Press. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

8 thoughts on “10 Tips to Editing Your Own Novel

  1. I pray for God’s help. I write christian fiction.

    Sometimes it is also helpful to take a break for days or weeks and then come to the manuscript to look it over with fresh eyes.

    God Bless,

  2. Great Tips Tamera!
    I am a firm believer in hard copy printing, it’s the only way I can edit. I’m lucky because I teach English and save any used worksheets with blank backs to print on and thus recycle much of the paper I bring into my house. For me there is a limit, somewhere around the 5th complete edit I start to see myself putting less and less red ink, then I pass it off to others to edit. Thanks for these tips and-Keep Writing!

  3. As a writer new to the process this article is very helpful. I am printing it out to keep in front of me when I begin the final editing process.

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