Learning How to Edit Your Novel by Beth Barany

The Writer's Adventure GuideAs an author, you’ve undoubtedly realized how important editing is during the course of your writing process. After completing your first draft you may feel a sense of relief as a result of being one big step closer to publication. Yippee! Unfortunately, your work is far from complete. Now it’s time to edit your novel. Multiple rounds of editing now lay ahead of you to ensure your novel is truly publication-ready.

Are you one of the many authors who find the editing process daunting and dreadful? I have! So I’ve developed a method to help make the process less overwhelming. Overall, try breaking the process up into bite-sized pieces. I edit my novels in passes similar to brushing tangles out of hair. Here’s what I mean:

  • Pass One – Clarity of Language – I use this pass to make sure what I’m trying to say is clear to the reader. Are my verbs strong? Are my nouns specific? Do I convey emotion by showing and not telling?
  • Pass Two – Why? And so what? – This second pass is used to make sure the character’s motivations are clear. I also use this pass to make sure the scene and character’s importance are obvious to the reader.
  • Pass Three – A Page Turner? – When I read my novels during the third pass, I do so as if I were the reader and not the author. I want to make sure I am engaged and compelled to turn the page. Several factors play into making a book engaging:
    • Making sure the reader feels – I mentioned this in the first pass, but it’s in the third pass that I pay extra-special attention to emotion. If the reader can’t feel what the character is feeling, the chance of her reading the book from beginning to end is pretty slim.
    • Making sure the reader cares about and identifies with the characters in the story – Whether a sci-fi or fantasy novel, romance or thriller, the reader must connect with at least one character and want to know what happens to him/her as the story progresses. Without care for a character, the reader and character might as well be strangers passing each other on a busy subway platform with no regard for one another.
    • Creating a sense of worry/concern – Remember the popular children’s book, Charlotte’s Web? How many readers do you believe would have read from beginning to end if they weren’t worried about Wilbur’s fate? Make us worry about your main character and we will turn the page.

As a certified creativity coach, NLP Practitioner, and Publishing and Marketing Consultant, I help writers get their writing done and out into the world. If you are still having trouble grasping the editing process, I invite you to check out my course, offered through the Outreach International RWA chapter, Editing Your Novel from the Inside Out: How to Deal With The Panic and Fear and Master The Editing Process. This is the last time I’ll be teaching the course at this price, and space is limited for the course.

Though this online-only course if offered by a romance writing chapter of the Romance Writer’s of America, it’s open to novelists who write fiction of any genre, and desire support around editing their completed manuscript. In the course we will cover:

  • What part of editing to focus on and when
  • Do you fix typos first then the story? And what about setting, plot and characters? When do you focus on those edits?
  • How do you know when you’re done editing?
  • How do you get beta readers? And how do you give and receive feedback?

The overall goal of this course is to offer you a road map on how to successfully edit your novel.

If you are an OIRW member, please click here to register.

If you are not an OIRW member, please click here to register.

Resources for the course: The Writer’s Adventure Guide by Beth Barany



Beth Barany is a certified creativity coach, NLP Practitioner, and Publishing and Marketing Consultant. She helps writers get their writing done and out into the world. She’s the bestselling author of THE WRITER’S ADVENTURE GUIDE and OVERCOME WRITER’S BLOCK. Her most recent book for writers is TWITTER FOR AUTHORS. Her young adult epic fantasy novel, HENRIETTA THE DRAGON SLAYER, won the Grand Prize in the 2012 California Book Fiction Challenge. More about Beth Barany on her site:www.bethbarany.com.

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