Once your first draft is written has rested for a few weeks, it’s time to edit. It is time to activate your inner editor.
Editing your own manuscript can be difficult since already know everything that is going on in and around the story. It is important for you to try to get some distance from the story before you reread it. I recommend waiting at least four weeks between finishing a draft and editing it.
The first read-through after the text has rested is the most important. It gives you a feel for the story, the world and the characters. Write down your impressions, but don’t start editing just yet.
The second read-through is a calmer one, when you go deeper into the text and think about both big things like plot and small things like scenes and paragraphs. Write down suggestions on how to improve the text.
Things to look out for when editing
- Information dumps, where you as a writer try to explain the background or history behind a person or place. Is it possible for you to weave information into the text in dialog instead?
- Parts where nothing happens. A great way to avoid this is to start the scene or chapter directly in a conflict to build up the tension and pace. Early conflicts drive the story forward. “Come late to the party, leave early.”
Create memorable characters
For readers to relate to and empathise with a character, the character needs to feel alive, they need to be three-dimensional. If your main character has a dark and mysterious past, don’t tell the reader everything right away. Portion it out through out the story and hint at secrets from the past.
– Does the character have a tix or expression that they always use? Don’t let other characters use the same one.
– Don’t put the reader on the spot with statements like “she looked like a criminal” – portray and let the reader form their own opinion. Or explain the protagonist’s feelings about the other character.
Create momentum in the story
Create momentum and a forward motion in your story by allowing it to move forward with each scene. Be ruthless when going through scenes and sometimes chapters – if they don’t move the story forward, they should be removed. While some scenes may seem interesting on their own, they don’t add anything to the reader if they don’t move the story forward.
Review the language of the book
I recommend reading your manuscript through the eyes of a linguist or copywriter. – Are you following the your language grammar and writing rules?
- Spellcheck everything.
- Do you have the same tense throughout?
- Do the different characters speak in a unique voice?
These are some of the things that Jessica Renheim talked about during one of the lectures at the Stockholm Writers Festival.