June 14, 2012

Editing a novel

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a lot about the process of writing fiction. How do you write a novel? How do you create a character? How do you write dialogue? What makes a scene work? If you click on the tag "writing process" below, you'll see those posts. The truth is that I've been learning how to write a novel as I wrote one. I find the same is true of editing.

At first, I edited the entire book from start to finish. This is a necessary process and it helps you to become familiar with the scope of your book. You get to see it in one fell swoop, in other words. But while this is definitely helpful, I found that no matter how many times I went through the book, I was still changing things. This gets to you after the 40th pass through the book. It really does.

Right now, I'm completing the final stage of editing my horror novel, Xmas Carol. (Yes, I'm still editing the book; what can I say? It needs it.) I'm doing the editing differently now. What I do is edit a chapter -- and immediately edit it again, and then again, and again. I do this until I'm completely satisfied with the chapter. Then I mark that chapter done and move on to the next. This seems to be working in a way that whole-book editing never did. I'm now happy with the first nine chapters of the book. It's only got 12 chapters, so I'm almost there.

I'm not sure how other fiction writers handle the editing process but this seems to be the way I do it. I'd love to hear from other writers. How did you edit your book?

As for regular readers who are dying to get their hands on Xmas Carol, I promise the book will be out by July. I swear. I'm almost there. Woot!

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