We all love that moment when you get to type ‘The End’. All those words, those characters, that plot that you’ve held in your head and wrestled with and somehow got down onto the page. Well done, you! You’ve written a novel. You’ve succeeded where so many others have failed.
But here’s the thing: The end of the writing process is just the beginning for your novel. There are, of course, novelists who can write perfect first drafts, but they’re in the minority. I’m one of the many writers who expects to do at least two drafts and a polish before it goes to my agent.
Here are six tips for getting started on the rewriting and editing process:
1. Take a break before you allow yourself to read your novel – at least a week.
2. Read on paper, not on screen. Jot down your thoughts as you go, whatever they might be.
3. If you’re anything like me, you will hate your novel more and more as you get into the middle of it (the soft underbelly). When you’ve finished, you will probably be scraping yourself off the floor. That’s OK. Most of us feel that way. You can fix it.
4. Take some time to get your thoughts straight. Your back brain will be working long before you have any answers. Go for walks, do other work – Let it all run through your head and make notes when you can. If you need another opinion, ask a smart reader who’ll give it to you straight (preferably not your mother or partner).
5. Your inner editor should start coming up with some answers now. Take time to plan your rewrite. Planning is hard work, but plans are liberating and so helpful. Once you know what has to be done, you can relax and have fun with it. Give yourself deadlines but make them realistic.
6. Take the time that is needed to get your novel as good as you can possibly make it. It’s vital to do this before you even consider submitting to a literary agent.
Great novels and great novelists are made in the rewrite and Anna shares more advice in her blog post – How to Edit a Novel – Working on the Big Picture.
Edit and Pitch Your Novel is our 6-week online editing course for new writers. It helps you to edit your novel and prepare your pitch package ready to submit to literary agents. See the full course schedule here.