Your book is your baby. We get it. That’s why we know how hard it is to edit your work. But just because it’s a hard step in the process, doesn’t mean you can ignore it. It’s important to find a way to remove yourself enough from your work in order to get a clear, outsider’s view. And of course, you have to be willing to “kill your darlings” as the saying goes.
In that spirit, here are some tips for editing your novel:
Not forever, but it’s incredibly important to read your novel with some fresh eyes. Even a week away will allow you some critical distance that you can use to help edit and see your whole structure better.
Destroy your little darlings
We all love the cute little sentences we’ve written, that flowery prose that convinces us we’re just the most talented writers we know. Guess what? This is hard to admit, but those pretty little darlings of yours are probably not so great. Beautiful moments in literature (your darlings) often emerge from simple descriptions and observations on the human and natural world — anything too convoluted will reek of trying just a little too hard. Keeping it simple doesn’t mean eliminating beauty.
Enlist trusted friends and editors
This could be the scariest moment of editing. The world has not yet seen your masterpiece, and this is the first step. And boy, is it a rough one. Your trusted editors and friends will be reading a piece of fiction that hasn’t yet been seen by other eyes. They will be of great assistance, pointing out flaws in grammar, continuity, and things that downright just don’t work. Inversely, they will also let you know what parts are great, where you shouldn’t change a thing, and how much they like it. It’s a quick dive into a cold pool, but for your novel’s sake, you have to do it.
What helps you edit your piece? Has editing made your novel’s better or worse? Do these tips work? Let us know in the comments below.