It dawns on me that I've talked about the difference between editing and proofreading, the importance of beta readers, and also a few editing do's and don'ts regarding what those beta readers/workshops have to say about your book, but I've not quite touched on the most basic part of editing: where the heck are you going to start?
Unfortunately, you're not in the clear after merely typing out 50k+ words and handing it out to beta readers. Heck, even before you hand it out to readers, maybe you want to do your own pass on your novel to work out any major kinks. This is that excruciatingly daunting task of taking your book apart and editing it so it becomes nice and pretty. Of course, there's that awful question of where to start.
So, what's the first thing you should do? My answer: create a list.
Now, I'm not a list person. I hate lists with a passion. So I'm not saying you have to have anything fancy. All you need is a piece of paper and your favorite pencil or pen. Really, once I'm done with this post you'll be smacking your head with how simple this first step to editing is.
If you're like me, you know what needs to be fixed while you're writing your first draft. Maybe a character isn't feeling quite right as your write them; maybe you can't figure out exactly what someone's motivation is, so you just skipped over those cracks; your pacing's off, or you lost track of time.
If you haven't already, now's the time to write them down. Create your list: numbered, bulleted, a different color per problem. Doesn't matter. Just write them all down so you don't have to worry about keeping all of those problems in your head. Re-read your novel-just read it, don't try to fix anything-and see where you get tripped up, or any inconsistencies. Add those to your list.
Have you given it to a beta reader? Take in their comments, and anything you agree with: add them to the list.
There's no given length it has to be: everything you think needs fixing, write it down before actually trying to fix it all. Otherwise, you're running blind and you're more likely to create a bit of a mess (well, if you're like me: I'm just a messy child in general).
Once you've got your list, then you can dive in and start changing things. Maybe you'll completely re-write your book and tackle it all at once, or maybe you'll go through and focus on one problem at a time. Bottom line: that list will basically be your lifeline.
How do you begin your initial stage of editing?
Done writing, ready to edit? Create a list, first: you'll thank yourself for it in the long run via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)