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Editing Tips - Great Tips for Editing

Tip: read these articles in sequence starting with Conflict


All good writing is rewriting

When to Edit—not too soon


The danger of editing is that you can get caught up in it when you should be spilling your story out instead. It’s not too surprising, then, that a common approach—the one I found liberating—is to not really edit…at least not until after you’ve written your book. 


Say, for example, that you’ve written two pages in a day—because you just wrote, not focusing too much on getting each word right. The next day don’t waste time endlessly editing, instead quickly go through and clean up the obviously ugly stuff. Ten minutes. This both gives the writing its first editing brush over and sets you up to dive into the next section.


Keep this up and before long you’ll have a book (not a few pages of nicely edited words).  


Lock your completed Novel away before you do


Once you have finished your novel, lock it away in a drawer for a few months. Many great writers (e.g. Stephen King) swear by this. It allows you to gain a little distance from your work and will give you a fresh, more objective perspective when you finally do pull it out and attack it with your big red pen.


Developmental verses Line Editing


  • Developmental editing is shaping the plotting, pacing, characterization and narrative structure of your book.

  • Line editing is working on the your writing style, making it say what you want it to, making it readable, effective and interesting.

Developmental Editing


This is one aspect of novel writing I find impossible to concisely summarize. Review developmental editing's various components with my site's articles and those in the Good Links section.


At its most basic, refining your story's development includes making sure its overall tension rises continually toward the climax and that your characters' growth and actions are organic and make sense. Check that you've covered the basics of internal and external conflict and have created a powerful interplay between them.

Also be sure your readers don't know where you're taking them by including reversals and surprises and playing with their expectations. Everybody hates being able to guess how a book will end.


Many writers look for outside input as to where their story has gone weak or awry, but I've learned that usually people just tell you what you already know. Skip this step in the process and just be brutally honest and brave enough to cut deep and rewrite where you intuitively know you must. 


How to Line Edit


Knowing how to line edit is really knowing how to write. The best single resource for any writer is a tiny book called The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. Don’t got it? Get it. It’ll be the best six bucks you’ll ever spend. It’s available online at the link below.


The Best Editing Books






 The Elements of Style>> See More Books about Writing a Novel or Film Script

 Online Version of The Elements of Style

 View links to additional Novel Writing resource sites.