6 Steps to Editing Your Novel: An Unconventional Guide by Keri Kruspe
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Keri Kruspe as she shares with us “6 Steps to Editing Your Novel: An Unconventional Guide.” Enjoy!
“To write is human, to edit divine.” – Stephen King
Oh sure, what does a worldwide bestselling novelist know?
I bet he has a legion of folks following him around, dedicated to analyze every word he writes so he doesn’t have to. *Sigh*
For us struggling artists, there isn’t anyone stumbling over themselves to do the heavy work that has to be done in editing our novels. It’s up to us to do it all by ourselves.
Jeez, whine much?
Okay, back when I began my writing career, I *cough* assumed my publisher would take care of all the pesky details my sloppy writing left behind. I’d happily go about my business, pumping out one best-selling novel after another once the first draft was done.
It didn’t take long for reality to slap me upside my stupid head. Especially after I sent my manuscript out to several publishing companies as well agents galore. I was lucky if I got back the “thanks, but no thanks” letters.
Head low, I got off my high horse and went back to the drawing board and delved into one of the reasons why I was being rejected.
Editing Your Novel: When I Started
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” – C. J. Cherryh
I may have begrudgingly edited my own stuff in the beginning, but I have to admit I actually enjoy the process now.
I imagine myself as Michelangelo, whittling away excess marble to uncover that yummy, robust statue of David (hey, I’m a romance writer. I like to dream about hunky, muscular men…).
My biggest problem is knowing when to stop.
Ezra Barany (Barany School of Fiction) once told me the time to quit editing was when all I did was “… just move furniture around.”
In other words, if all I’m doing is replacing one word for another with the same meaning, it’s time to let go.
Admittedly, that’s toward the end of the editing process.
With that in mind, let’s look at how my editing process is now.
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” – Dr. Seuss
6 Steps to Editing Your Novel
In a nutshell, here’s the 6 steps I use to edit my work.
Please keep in mind this is a “living” document and has the right to change whenever it wants.
1. Start with the end in mind
When I run though the rough draft for the first time, I focus on how the characters turned out.
- Are their actions in the beginning consistent on how they ended?
While I’ve created an outline of the main characters before I start writing the novel, those suckers have a tendency to change as the story progresses.
Because of that, I keep an eye out to see if there is something I’d better fix in the narrative so it lines up with how they ended.
At the same time, I will insert more flavors in the prose.
- Should I go into more detail of where they are?
- Are their reactions uniform with their overall character?
- Also, what other senses should I include – what do they see? Smell? Any reason they are tasting something? How do they respond to what they touch?
- The bigger question is, do I show how all that makes them feel?
2. Seeking out those pesky plot holes
In my second run, I’m noticing the structure, tone, and overall plot of the story.
In my newest release, Alien Legacy: The Shapeshifter a huge plot hole was pointed out to me by my editor.
Throughout the story, my heroine learned how to be a shapeshifter – someone who could not only turn into animals, but could also change into someone if she touched them first.
But towards the end, I had her turning into a dragon. And since there aren’t any dragons flying around, that would be a little hard for her to do.
No worries, once that flaw was brought to my attention, I was able to include the explanation in the storyline.
3. Making everything sing on key
The third run is the fun part (insert heavy sarcasm here).
This is where I bring out the big guns (like an editing program such as Pro Writing Aid) and do a lot of tweaking.
This type of editing takes up most of my time as I get down to the nitty gritty.
We all have specific words and phrases we confuse ourselves with, and believe me, I’m no exception.
If you don’t use Pro Writing Aid, another way to seek those suckers out is in Scrivener.
- Go to the top menu, Project>Text Statistics, then click on the arrow next to “Word Frequency” and click the down arrow.
- There you’ll get a list of words in that particular scene you might be overusing.
“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” – Mark Twain
4. Put on your acting hat
Here’s where I read what I’ve done out loud.
As in, can you hear the words that are coming outta my mouth?
When I do this, I change my voice to whatever I’m reading.
- Is the dialogue excited?
Even when I get my manuscript back from my editor the second time, I do this again. It’s not only fun, but I can’t tell you how many errors I spot.
The only downside is finding the privacy act out your book.
Especially when reading out loud the juicy parts of the romance story…
I’m not talking about an editor.
It goes without saying you should invest in hiring a professional editor.
But, your job is to make it as clean as possible before you do.
Not only will it make you a better writer, but you’ll endear yourself to your editor. It may even save you money!
No, what I’m talking about is Beta Readers who can turn into early reviewers.
Developing a list of folks who love to be a part of making your novel into the masterpiece that is. Having a second pair of eyes is invaluable.
And remember, you don’t have to take their suggestions if you don’t feel it works with your story.
As a matter of fact, I’m looking for folks who’d like to be Beta Readers for my Sci-Fi romances. If you’re interested, leave a comment and let me know!
6. And the closing suggestion…
Time for a little fun… you deserve it after all your hard work!
Want to read more articles like this one Writer’s Fun Zone? Subscribe here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keri Kruspehas been an author since the age of twelve and has always been fascinated with otherworldly stories that end in Happily Ever After. Author of Otherworldly Romantic Adventures, Keri’s first series is An Alien Exchange trilogy. An Alien Exchange is the first book in the arousing Alien Exchange sci-fi romance series. If you like sexy aliens, feisty heroines, and fast-paced action, then you’ll love Keri Kruspe’s steamy space adventure.
Keri now resides with her family in the wilds of Northwestern Michigan. An avid reader, Keri enjoys good wine, good food, and watching action/adventure movies. You can find her most days immersed in her fantasy world of writing or traveling with her hubby in their RV, discovering intelligent life here on Earth. For goodies, news of upcoming releases, sign up for her newsletter at www.kerikruspe.com.