Four Things I’ve Learnt While Editing my Novel

To commemorate starting the fourth draft of my novel, An Experiment in Time and Memory.

(A working cover :P)

Every time I work on my novel, I learn something new about my characters, my world, myself, and, most of all, the writing and editing processes.

Editing is painful, but it’s worth the effort. The first draft of this book was a mess, but now I’ve pulled it apart a few times, took out some chapters, filled in plot holes and made it easier to follow.

There’s still more work to do, but every draft makes my novel a better novel.

Draft 1 – If you’re stuck, time helps.

Take a break in between each draft, and if you’re stuck or need an idea, go and interact with water somehow. Go to the bathroom, drink a glass of water, take a walk around a lake, take a shower, stare into the sink (but not in such a way that people think you’re going to be sick), just take some time, go somewhere else, and if possible, involve water. Don’t ask why, but water helps.

Draft 2 – Take a break in between drafts.

When you finish the first draft, take a couple of weeks/months and don’t touch the book. When you come back, you’ll find problems you didn’t know were there and solutions you didn’t know would come. Each time you finish a draft, take at least two weeks off before the next one, just to let it and your mind rest.

Draft 3 – When you’re feeling unmotivated to edit, go read your favourite chapter.

Chapter 47. *evil laugh*

Draft 4 – Do your research in the first draft, not the fourth.

Um so 19 pounds doesn’t sound like much now, but it’s the equivalent of about 2800 pounds since 1868 XD

Also it was 20s to the pound, so technically it was 20 pounds 10s. :\

bonus 5! Just because it’s not exciting anymore it doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting excited about.

Remember reading English texts in high school? That’s what editing is like. You read it, you kind of enjoy it, then you go through it and pick it apart, question it, pull apart the characters, then finally quickly read it again before the final essay is due. Then, when you get to the exam, you have to read it all again.

It wasn’t that bad the first time, but now that you know all the quotes, all the plot twists (yeah, some English texts have plot twists!), you know how the characters develop, roll your eyes as you see the break-up coming… it’s painful.

That’s what editing is like!

But those books are English texts because they have depth. People like reading them; they’re meaningful and really, really good. It’s just that you’re reading it four times in the space of a few months.

So just because your book feels boring three-quarters of the way through the third draft, it doesn’t mean that epic plot twist is any less epic than it was when you first came up with it. It’s just that you read it three times in the past month.

Stick with it. One day in a few years, you’ll pick it up and you might just enjoy it. 🙂

Alrighty creators, what are some tips you’ve learnt about your creative process?

Published by Debbie Coll

I'm a storyteller, songwriter and author who loves God, fairy tales and music. I write about tales, creative tips and process on my blog,

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