I used to think that I would write the first draft of my novel completely before going back and editing it, but it turns out that I don’t like moving forward with my story until I know that my foundation is solid.
Your first chapter, more specifically your first four or five pages, is the foundation for your entire novel.
Take a look at any really well-written novel. It lays the foundation for the rest of the book in the beginning. It gives you the “threads” that you’ll need to weave the rest of the novel together.
Now, I took yesterday and went through my first chapter again. I’m honestly not sure which draft I’m on, but it must be somewhere past the 15th draft. Now, that doesn’t mean a full rewrite every time.
What it does mean is that I go through word by word making sure that each sentence is understandable and concise. Although I might feel bad for losing some words/length of my piece, I have to remind myself that it’s most likely better in the long run
- Length does not always equal quality. I’m sure we can all think of a book that we’ve read that could have ended a chapter or two sooner. I’m sure we can all think of a book that we’ve read that could have ended a chapter or two sooner.
- Just because you’re on your 456th edit does not mean that your story is not worth telling. Everyone edits. Literally everyone. I have a book that shows the edits F. Scott Fitzgerald made while he was writing The Great Gatsby. All writers edit.
- If you come away with one positive edit about your chapter, but you’ve thrown away nine bad choices, then you are making progress. You just learned nine ways not to write your book.
- The cleaner you can make your manuscript on your own the less work a professional editor will have once you reach that stage.
- Coffee is your best friend.
- Cats make a great distraction when you need one.
- Be kind to yourself. Looking at your own work with a critical eye is hard. It takes practice and courage to admit when something isn’t working.
- Take a breath once you’ve finished.
I find that last one crucial. When I’m editing by chapters I limit myself to one a day. That way I know much work I have in a day, and I don’t take the work home with me. Well, I work from home, but you get the gist. I don’t let it take over the time I should be spending with my husband.
Editing can either be something that you’ve come to enjoy, or it can be something that you try everything to avoid. It has to happen either way, so try and find a method that works best for you.
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