How I edit

While my planning stage is all over the shop, my editing method is more refined. So, without further ado, here's how I edit in 10 (not-so) easy steps. 

1) Read the completed manuscript and cry. Yes, this is a step. I usually do this so that I accept how terrible the novel is. There's really no use fighting it. 

This is me after reading my manuscript. Source

2) Take notes on what sucks. I usually have a pretty good list before I start step one because I make notes as I go along instead of going back and fixing it. Now, however, I have a really long list (but don't bother with making notes about line editing yet. We'll get there). It usually looks something like this - 

-MC has magic flip flips (she keeps losing and gaining them randomly)
-Theme sucks
-This story takes place in a random universe somewhere where there is no thing 
 as description of anything whatsoever. FIX!
-What's the point of Character B? 
-Why on earth do I have robot horses? 
-Fix sucky ending!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *bangs head against wall* 
-Consider adding more explosions and Artemis Fowl cameo (it can't get much 
 worse, right?)

...except it's about three times longer. Yeah. It's depressing. 

3) Go edit! I usually start with either the really easy fixes, like the magic flip flops, or the really hard edits, like the sucky theme. It depends on the edit and what kind of mood I'm in. I delete the list as I finish it, which gives you such a great sense of achievement, kind of like the feeling you get after defeating the Goblin (if you're Spider-Man).

4) Repeat steps two and three. Yep, this is the not-awesome bit where you keep editing and hope that something's working. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat... until the story is structurally awesome with amazing characters. *sigh* It's harder than it sounds. 

5) Line editing. This is my least favourite part of editing. When you have no idea what else you could do to make your story better, you then have to go through the entire thing - which you're probably sick of by now - and make sure every single word works. Cut! Delete! Fix! Destroy all passive tense and adverbs! What fun! Sarcasm! 

6) Send it off to critique partners and start praying. When your novel is as good as you can make it, then you need to send it off to more than one critique partner (my two fabulous critique partners are Heather at Sometimes I'm a Story and RM Lutz at The Book Hound, and you should check out their amazing blogs immediately). Then you wait. And wait some more. Then, the email arrives. Saying the quote "I've got a bad feeling about this" is usually appropriate at this point. You open your email, and, if your critique partner is any good, your manuscript is bleeding red. That's right. You're back to step three! (Note that you don't have to take their advice... just think about it, at least.) 

7) Do step three. Again. 

What the inside of my brain usually
looks like during the editing process.

8) Step five. Again. (I'm sorry for your pain.) If you weren't sick of your novel by now, you will be now. 

9) Fight the doubt that it sucks and that no one will ever like it. It's harder than it sounds. 

10) Celebrate! Your novel is now as awesome as it will probably ever be (unless you're like Iron Man, in which case you will have a Mark 42 whipped up in no time). That is a serious accomplishment. Congratulations. I usually like to go eat some chocolate and cry at around this time.

I wish you the best of luck in all your editing endeavors, and sincerely wish you do not give up somewhere at Step 5, because finishing a novel is one of the greatest feelings in the world. 

Go forth and edit, my jabberwockies!    

What's your editing game plan? Do you love or hate the process? 

The jabberwocky in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

P. S. As a side note, I do feel like I owe you a small explanation. I was going to call my readers (that's you, by the way) minions, but minions aren't nearly as awesome as jabberwockies (unless it's a minion from Despicable Me, but I didn't feel like I was worthy enough to have those minions). And besides, jabberwockies are incredibly awesome, so why not? 

P. P. S. As another side note, Liz is celebrating her her blogoversary! (Or however you spell it.) You should check out her blog because it's awesome. 


  1. Hey, I'm cool with being a jabberwocky. :)

    Also, that crying baby pretty much sums up how I feel when I'm doing any sort of read-through of my novel. And your list of stuff that needs fixing--priceless and true. I'm actually a funny editor. I don't deal with problems one at a time. I just rewrite the whole stinking draft word-by-word, line-by-line, changing all the things I think need changing at the same time. Of course, I go through other drafts after that, as I process beta reader feedback, but most of the major overhaul happens in one messy draft, sort of like ripping a Band-Aid. I used to do many more drafts, fixing only certain problems at a time, but it was too much for my poor, scatter-brained mind. :P

    Thanks for sharing your editing process, and thanks for mentioning my blog! :)

    1. Yes, it's terrible! I always feel like the worst writer in the world. I can't believe you rewrite the whole thing; that would kill me. Like seriously, bring me to my knees and turn me into dust. All the work!!! I'm glad it works for you, though.

  2. Editing is SOOOOO HARD. Agh. I feel that way. Soo much. Sooooo much. And, I can't say I have any qualms against your editing process, though mine takes a few more steps—namely, procrastination. *sigh* I need to get get on this business. Thanks so much for the shout-out, too! :) Glad that we've been helpful!

    1. YES EDITING IS HARD!!! And yes, I love procrastination. It's great for helping with the growing pile of laundry.... And thanks for your awesome suggestions! Creature would suck without my wonderful critique partners!!

  3. Thanks for the mention, Victoria!
    I have to say you've done as much or more to help me out! :)

    1. Anytime :) and hey, that's what friends are for.

  4. Victoria, I love this post! So, I finished my first novel on August 1st, which means that THIS SATURDAY the six-week separation will be over and I'll begin my first ever edit! I am both terrified and super excited (I've really really missed my characters). I've already made the list of things that need to be fixed, but I've not actually read the draft yet ... I kinda don't want to, the first bit is so awful! (I started it aged 14.) But, ugh, I need to soon I guess ... :/

    PS Thank you for your lovely comment on my story! And sorry I've taken such a long time to get over here. But I am a new follower :)

    1. Thank you!!! Aaah, that's so scary! And it's so awesome to get reconnected to get with your characters after a break. Good luck with reading your draft! And isn't that list long and depressing? It just makes me want to cry when I look at it. But I think it's good when you see how bad your draft is because you can see how much you've improved.

      You're welcome! That story was really good. Thank you :) you just made my day!!!


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