So my copy came early! If you haven’t been following this blog this whole time, I’ll explain. After NaNoWriMo, I ordered a print copy book so that I can edit it on something other than the computer and work on the cover and all that. It was supposed to come Wednesday, which would be a full week of me not knowing what to do with myself, but it came today!
So I figured that I’d write a post on my personal editing process, which takes way longer than writing the first draft.
But it works.
So I wrote almost the whole first draft in November, and finished it a few days afterwards. It is about 116,000 words, and exactly five hundred pages (I added some pages at the end for notes and planning for edits). I had it printed because if I tried to edit it on my laptop, I wouldn’t be able to bring it with me everywhere and I would be sort of immune to the mistakes.
If you write on the computer and skip over a grammatical error, odds are you’ll do it again if you edit on the computer. With the print copy, everything is in smaller pages, and it’s in a different font. It is also in a completely different format that you aren’t used to seeing your book in. These changes will make the things that are wrong stand out more.
Now it’s time for draft two! For the rest of December, I’m going to go over the entire book and better develop my character, make any major plot changes that are necessary, fill in plot holes and make final decisions on character names, town names, and all of that. Basically, I’m adding to my original draft and fixing all of the stupid things that I had in there originally to make them better.
I’ll put all of these changes into the computer.
I’ll order another copy at the end of December for draft three.
Draft three is all about taking away things that are in the story that I don’t need. Is there a whole scene in the book that wouldn’t make a difference to the plot if it wasn’t there? Is there anything in there that is completely pointless and was just fluff? Fluff is not good unless it has a purpose. Are there any characters who have absolutely no point? Any events? Places?
I’ll also read through it another time during this draft to make sure that I caught all of those plot holes. Plot holes are the death of me and I will freak out if they make it to draft four.
But they will. There’s always something.
Also, I will polish up the story in this draft, changing passive to active and substituting adjectives and adverbs I use too much. More things like that.
Then I will put all of my changes into the computer.
Don’t print it again for draft four. Draft four is all about grammar, spelling, and everything technical that you can imagine. Along the way to this draft I will correct anything if I see it, but I’m not going to be searching for it like I am in draft Four. Let the inner editor run free. There are several tools you can use for this, but I’ll probably write a post about all of those closer to my fourth draft.
Hopefully, by the end of February, I will be done with draft four, and maybe go over it again just to be sure. Typos are also the death of me.
Then I print it again before March.
March, as many of you know, is when I plan to do the beta testing. During a beta testing, I like to have the book as cleaned up as possible. Just as a disclaimer, though, if you plan to have your book professionally edited, usually that is done after a beta testing. I know, I know, you want it to be perfect before anyone reads it. Here’s why not:
First, at this point, I would have had four drafts to get it ready. And second, wouldn’t it be better for a reader to point out a major problem in you book before you pay a ton of money to get a professional to look at it? That way you don’t have to pay all of that money again when you finish fixing the huge plot hole that made you rewrite half the story.
I’ll host the beta reading and make changes along the way and ask questions and take polls and all of that to help me with this fifth draft. I’ve only planned my editing process up until then, because (a) I can’t help but plan so far ahead, it’s in my blood and (b) If I find a major problem with the story, I’m going to need time to fix it before movin on to the next step.
Also, if you are planning to self publish, all of this printing is a great time to be experimenting with different covers and different styles and sizes that are offered through your self publisher. I’m using Createspace for my proofs, since they have so many options and are really easy to use. Fast shipping, too. For example, I’m not so sure about the matte cover that I got on this copy, so next time I might try the glossy cover. But I might go for traditional publishing.
A lot of you might be thinking that five drafts isn’t enough. And you’re right. It isn’t. But my five drafts are more like five stages… each stage is gone over so many times that it is more like two drafts a stage… so ten drafts. Sort of. And I’m planning to do way more after stage five. That’s just where I stopped planning in case something goes wrong.
This is my plan, and it works for me, so I thought it might help some of you who are just starting out like me. You don’t have to use my method of editing, though. It’s very fast paced and strict… but that’s how I get myself to get away from distractions. You might take more time for each stage than just a month…
And if you think that after your first book, it gets easier? Nope. Book three and I’m still freaking out. I love it.
Sorry, but someone had to tell you. And freaking out about the book is the best part, so appreciate it. You should be stressing about if it is perfect. That means you care. And that means that you are passionate about what you are doing. If you can get through all of those drafts, then you are seriously dedicated and that’s a great thing. So freak out. Mental break downs can be good for you.
I think it’s called Eustress… look it up. I’m not sure.
I feel like I’m biting off more than I can chew, but that’s just who I am. I love signing up for things that are a challenge and then doing everything I can to beat those goals with 110% effort… So much for a social life. That’s okay. I can worry about that when I’m out of college. For now, I have books and twitter and writing.
What else could a person ever need in life?
Peanut butter, duh. Always peanut butter. Don’t worry. I’ve got that, too.
My challenge for you is to come up with a plan for editing your book. Even if you are still writing, come up with a plan. You are way more likely to finish writing and editing this book if you have goals to reach. Things to accomplish. And the more you work at it, the better it feels to see your book in print. And it doesn’t have to be anything like my plan. That’s just an example.
When I’m completely done, I want to order a hardback copy of it, just to reward myself for pushing through months of work. I think I’ll do that for each of the books I write… Yeah, that’s a good idea.
Hopefully, one day, I’ll have a shelf full of hardback copies of my books.
Maybe you will, too.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!