At the bottom are some useful looking links. I only skimmed them because reading all of them closely seems like a quick trip to confusion & frustrations. Don’t do this!
But first, remember, the process of editing IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERY WRITER and different for every work. Be flexible. Be prepared to try things to see if they work. Be aware that works for you is what works for you, regardless of what anyone else says. (If anyone insists their way is the best and/or only way, run away. Quickly.)
Except for one thing, and that is true for every writer.
You see, if you read books or posts about writing, you’ll get the idea that the writing process is:
* Write the first draft
* Read through first draft and make changes
* Proof read.
* Send to beta readers.
And that’s crap.
There. That’s the thing that is true for everyone.
You write as many drafts and do as many revisions as you need or you want. You might very well work like the process above. Some people do 🙂 Or you might have written a slow first draft with a detailed outline and now you just need to proofread it. Or you might write a series of drafts that focus on different aspects of the craft. Or you decided in the middle of the second draft that the middle sucks so you rewrite most of it from scratch so it’s a effectively a second first draft.
You do what works for you. And if you try something else, and it works for you, that’s good too. (I don’t want to suggest you should never try what other people suggest. Of course you should, or how do you know what works for you?!)
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because you’re too slow or too quick or too whatever. Editing might take days, week, months or years. You don’t have to write a novel in a year or six months or two years (unless you have a multi-book contract I guess 🙂 Some people work better fast. Some slow. Both are good, as long as you’re moving forward and feel you’re improving your manuscript (and your craft).
For that matter, not every book you write has to have the end goal of being published, or even being read by other people. Writing for the pleasure of writing, or to explore an idea, or to experiment is great! (My current Work In Progress will probably never be seen by anyone else but I’m still editing it to be as good as it can.)
However, having said all that, there are two things that are good guidelines to follow:
1. Give the story time to rest between writing the first draft and revising. Distance from the writing helps. This might be a month (especially if you’ve been working on other things), or six months, or years.
2. When you’re ready to get back to it, read it through. At this stage, some people like to print it and write notes on the MS as they go. Some people like to make notes elsewhere. Some people like to just read it and not make notes. (If you’re reading from a screen, changing it to e-book format often helps. You approach it as a reader then.) However you work, read it through before you start actually making changes.
If you do Step 2 and you don’t see any need to make changes, you might need to revisit Step 1 🙂
So, you’re waited and you’ve read. Now what do you do? I’ve put together some useful looking links. Skim them. (Don’t read them all carefully and try to follow all the advice. Really. Don’t.) See if any resonate and use them as the basis for your own process. If you don’t like any of them, there are plenty of other pages out there, google: novel revision
Have you got a favourite link/site for editing?
8 Awesome Steps To Revising Your Novel
There’s a lot of information there. It might be a good one to revisit and read over times. If it makes you feel overwhelmed, hit the X and move on.
Holly Lisle: How to Revise A Novel
This is one of those “do one major edit and throw it out the door pages”, but there’s some useful procedural stuff in there.
At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days
This is an edit your novel in 31 days process. That might be a bit unrealistic, but doing it in 31 STEPS might be a good idea. I haven’t looked at the individual steps/days but it might be useful if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just stop and focus on one small thing at a time.
“Revising your novel – make it a playground, not a torture chamber
This is general advice rather than a process.