I’m in the thick of editing my first novel, and it is proving to be a more daunting challenge than I may have originally expected. First – all those adverbs! Ack! When I wrote my first draft I consciously (there’s one again!) tried to limit adverb usage, knowing that it is better to show, not tell. But there are still so many! I know that is partially because in my haste to get to the 50,000-word finish line of NaNoWriMo I sketched out some sections instead of fully writing them. So I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to better tell my story.
I’m new to novel-writing (writing a novel is novel to me, heh). While I’ve been a storyteller for some 20 years, this is my first foray into this medium. There are so many different tips and rules to think about! I’m no stranger to story and character development, but novels have their own kind of structure. I’m finding it necessary to consult the hive mind of the Internet to glean some of the information I’m lacking. While I, by no means, have even scratched the surface of writing resources that are available online, I have found a few that have been especially helpful thus far. In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite editing tips and tools I have found on the web.
Having never written, much less edited, an entire novel before, I had no idea where to start. My novel falls under the YA umbrella, and generally follows a linear story told in the first person present tense. I wanted to find a clear, concise, and above all SIMPLE recipe for editing what is a pretty straightforward story. Junkfoodmonkey gave me just what I was looking for, and so far the method they lay out has not steered me wrong.
If only I had found this BEFORE I started my first draft! There’s some really great advice in here. When I wrote my first chapter, I had the feeling I would be scrapping and rewriting it in later drafts, much like a theatre director will restage the first scene of a play once the whole thing is blocked. I had almost talked myself out of totally revising my opening chapter, but reading this post confirmed my intuition that my first chapter needs to be AWESOME and that I should spend a good amount of time reworking and polishing it until it shines and makes the reader want to keep reading.
This is a great tool once you’ve gotten to the line editing process (or at least I think it will be, I’m not to that stage yet). I’ve already noticed in my second read-thru that I really like the words JUST, SUDDENLY, and ILLUMINATE, for example. I’ve also got some run-on sentences and a cliché here and there. This list will be a good reminder to check for all these things in subsequent readings, to make sure my prose is clear and tight.
Again, this might have been a good post to stumble upon while writing the first draft, but these are some great tips and tricks that I can still implement. I got a real baddie in my book, and although he is a power-hungry, larger-than-life villainous dude, he is still human. When I rewrite I’m going to look for opportunities to show his humanity and his vulnerabilities. I’m also going to take some time after this read-thru to work through an in-depth character description, which I didn’t do in my haste to finish the first draft.
Did I mention how I love the word JUST? Yeah, not a power word. This list, and my thesaurus, will be my companions when I reach the line-editing stage. I want my sentences to pack an emotional punch, and carefully choosing the best, most descriptive words is a huge part of that.
What did I miss? Do you have editing or revising tools and resources that you love? Please share in the comments! I’m always on the lookout for good advice.