Editing your manuscript, the horror…the gross

Now that it’s December, there are a lot of you who are staring at that empty abyss of “oh…now I’ve finished that…what do I do?” leftover feeling from November and NaNoWriMo.

While I didn’t participate in NaNo this year, I did, in November, complete the first draft of a bawdy romance novel manuscript. Blah blah blah we’re not talking about that today.

We’re talking about last year’s nano, which I finished last june/july. And now that I’ve finished that other, I am finally picking it up for editing.

I sent it out for a few alpha-reads, and got some great feedback there. And then I was able to look at it, stand back, and decide what it needs.

Haley’s rules for editing

1. Always go pick picture to little picture. It’s the same thing they taught me in art class with drawing. If you spend hours and hours on the little details, focusing solely on them, when you step back you can find that it doesn’t fit, or that it belonged somewhere else on the page. Take that same idea and apply it to your manuscript.

For me, that means I start with formatting and structure. I start by making sure it fits as closely as I possibly can into the structure I want it to be. Not just in how the words are put on the page, which is important, but also in how the story fits into the three/four/five act structures (all depending upon your personal decision).

My weakness is building tension, well…it’s one of my many weaknesses. It’s the one that I handle in the first pass through. I’ll stand back and look at it all and decide what goes where, where the subplots need to stand-out a little more, and where I need to tighten up, and where I need to fill in the plot holes.

After that go through, it’ll be easy to start to looking smaller and smaller. Find the grammar errors, fix the wording, and then make it shiny.


2. Convince yourself that editing it is as much fun as writing it.

For me it just is.


3. Read difficult passages out loud. Your brain quite often makes assumptions based on what you meant and not what you typed, but most often, your mouth misses out on this conversation.

4. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to literally re-write every single word. It’s my favorite thing.

5. When you’re done editing the hard-copy, autograph it, stick it in a nifty box, and put it somewhere safe. Someday, someone will want that for a lot of money.


5 thoughts on “Editing your manuscript, the horror…the gross

  1. Glenn Hefley says:

    I”m sorry, you kind of lost me on the whole .. editing is … fun.. thing.. I understand the words .. just not use to seeing them in that order. it is a very disturbing shape though.. I can’t seem to get my eyes to focus on them all together like that which is why I had to space them out. Otherwise, the shape made me dizzy.

    In my experience. if this is a manuscript you care about put it away for at least six months. The reason I made that crack about caring is I write Biker Romances as a ghost writer for a company in New York. They have editors. they give me the story, I write the novel and send it to them. MY novel is completely different, and while i don’t care much about the Bicker romances, I do care about my thrillers.

    Getting some distance between your brain and the first draft. Serious distance, will make you three times more effective while editing.

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