So you’ve finished your book, congratulations! You’re one step closer to becoming a published author. Let yourself bask in that glory before you proceed to worry about the next part, because the next step is often the most fraught, challenging, and time-consuming.

It just so happens to also be the most important and ground-breaking part of the process- the part that involves editing.

Here are four tactics for editing your book or novel:

  1. Set it aside.

You’ve probably obsessed over this draft for months, if not longer. The best thing to do now is let it breathe for a few weeks. Clear your mind of it and focus on other projects temporarily. That way when you finally come back to it, it’s with fresh and more critical eyes.

 

  1. Read it all the way through.

Start from the first page and make sure to do it slowly and carefully. We recommend only doing a few chapters at a time, to avoid information overload, but in the end you’ll know what works best for you.

Be on the lookout for typos and grammar mistakes, but also, take the time to focus on the story and the characters. Take a pad and make note of plot holes, character inconsistencies, pacing, clichés, and predictability (Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series, has a great list of things she looks out for on that first read-through here).

Here is where you want to fight the urge to re-write. Finish before you make any changes so you can get a well-rounded impression of your work.

 

  1. First Rewrite.

Take a look at your notes, devise solutions and think on what can change to make the book better. It’s not too late to restructure your story if things just aren’t making sense.

For example, don’t be afraid to erase characters if they serve no purpose. Or better yet, flesh out those secondary characters by giving them motivations and dialogue.

And remember: Every scene must move the story forward.

 

  1. Read-through part II, and the Peer Review.

After you’ve made your changes, we recommend printing out your whole manuscript and reading it out loud. Mistakes and awkward sentences become much more apparent when they’re voiced.

This is also the time to hand off your manuscript. Now we know you love your mother but you want to be very critical when deciding who to hand it to. Preferably it’s someone with some editing or writing experience, but nonetheless make sure it’s someone with an objective viewpoint who can give constructive criticism.

The final say is yours, but take their criticism into consideration when making your final edits.

 

The last bit of advice we can give you before you start the editing process is to take a second to recognize that frustration is inevitable. You will be tired and angry, and probably end up rewriting the same portion countless times. But this is the process that makes your book stronger and more cohesive.

Good luck!