Many years ago, when I started writing fiction, my editor at Macdonald-Futura sent me her editorial notes after I’d submitted the manuscript of my first novel. From memory, there were around five pages of notes.
I didn’t cope well… After my initial disbelief, I sulked. Then I got angry. As far as I was concerned, when I sent the manuscript to London, that was it. My novel was done.
Ah… no. It wasn’t done. As a newbie novelist, I had no clue about editing my novel. My first editor taught me how to do that, and I’m forever grateful.
Those five pages of notes, when all was said and done, amounted to very little, in comparison with the time and energy of writing the novel on an IBM Selectric typewriter, with pages stippled with gunky White Out correcting fluid.
When I buckled down, I rewrote a couple of scenes, and played with some of the characters. From memory, fixing the novel took very little time.
And to my everlasting astonishment: editing turned out to be fun, and immensely satisfying. Elements which had been in the background now played to the characters’ motivations, for example.
If I’d had a clue about self-editing, I would have jumped into editing right away, without all the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Writing fiction: why edit your own novel?
Writing a novel involves two primary processes: writing, and editing. The process of editing your fiction is just as important as the process of writing it. (Perhaps I should call an author’s edits, “self-editing”, or revision.)
After this self-editing process is done, you can turn your manuscript over to a professional editor, who’ll help you to sort out word choice and grammar.
When you’re self-editing (revising) your novel, you’re looking at the broad picture of your novel, as well as minor details of plot and character.
Here’s why you need to be a competent editor of your own fiction: only you know your vision for your book, and an editor, even with all the skill and goodwill in the world, can’t help you with that.
If you want your book to be as good as you can make it, so that it sells well for years, you need to develop self-editing skills.
The good news?
The good news about self-editing: you’ll grow as an author, and it’s FUN
I love editing. Sometimes I think I love it more than the writing itself. OK, probably not, but it’s just as much fun as writing.
The students in our private coaching self-editing classes always agree too: editing is fun, because you’re making your novel better. You learn a lot with every book you edit too. Editing definitely helps you to write better books.
(BTW, the class has now ended. You can still contact me for private coaching of course.)
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →
What's holding you back from the writing career of your dreams? If you want to write more, sell more, and have more fun writing... it's easier than you can imagine. Discover the secret to writing every day, and becoming a prolific writer.More info →