Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.
I talked on Monday about taking six weeks off after writing a first draft. I also talked about how finishing the first draft can feel like you've hiked up a canyon, only to realize you have another one ahead of you.
Say you've taken your six weeks off. You've opened your manuscript, and you've started reading. Some scenes are good, better than you remembered, even. Others read stiff and need some definite work.
This is my system for edits. Use what works for you and ignore the rest!
- I read the book in as few sittings as possible and make notes as I do. Here's a post on my editing notebooks.
- I usually have a few big scenes that need to be added. I write those and plug them in where I think they fit best.
- I also usually have a few plot lines that I either foreshadowed in early chapters and never followed through on, or that I came up with halfway through the first draft and now need to plant foreshadowing. Often these are just hundred or five hundred word additions to existing scenes.
- I take a deep breath and start line edits. First I read a scene as a whole and verify that I want to keep it. I also try to think about ways to make it stronger. After I work on the content of the scene, I go line-by-line to make everything read smoother. I tweak just about every sentence. This process takes a loooong time. I posted about how long line (or micro) edits take over the summer.
- After I finish my micro edit, I love to take a week or two off. I can't always do that, but man, is it refreshing when I can.
- I go through and do another line edit. I'm still changing things, still smoothing out my sentences for stronger readability, but it doesn't take so long this time.
- I send my manuscript to my critique partners.
I've spent my summer doing massive rewrites and edits on my fall release, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet. To be honest, there were moments that I thought it was the best book I had written, moments when it seemed so horrible that I was embarrassed by it, moments when I wanted to ask about cancelling my contract, moments when I knew what needed to be fixed...but I didn't know how to go about it. This is when I leaned on my critique partners. Next Monday, I'm going to talk about how to handle the response from your critique partners.
Any questions about the editing process that I can help answer?