Advice on Editing a Novel by Ginny Wiehardt

Article sourced via Guide to Fiction Writing

A recent post on writing a novel generated so many thoughtful comments that a post on novel revision seemed in order. One comment in particular, from Lily, broke the novel-writing process down into steps, from first to final draft, something I would have found helpful before writing my first novel.

'The first draft is always the most fun, at least for me,' Lily wrote. 'This is because I get out everything creative, and if I really hate it, I can always go back and change it later. I usually find the easy things in the 2nd draft -- spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, by running a spell check and reading it through once. The third draft is the hardest for me. This is when I fix the big things -- discrepancies, plot holes, character development, dialogue. After the third draft is FINALLY done, I re-read it and fix anything that still doesn't sit right with me -- it's usually little things, spelling or a word change here and there. Then I give it to family members and friends, and they each give me a critique. I decide whether or not to change things, all in my fifth draft.'

Lily's organized, step-by-step procedure highlights the fact that there is more than one part to the revision process, and it shows which part requires the most time and energy. When I wrote my first book, I spent way too long on that second draft, thinking I was revising when I was actually polishing. This meant that when I did start to address big problems, I'd already invested so much energy and time in the sentence-level prose, it was hard for me to make necessary cuts.

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