Editing the book

editing novelSo here’s my to-do list for the next three weeks. All going according to plan, I’ll have a draft ready for beta readers by mid-November. Of course, it’s a bit heavy to lug on the train with me. 🙂


Update the outline as it is

Update the plot spreadsheet as it is

Hand edit

Need: single subject spiral bound notebook, 3 to 4 colours of pen, printed draft, Outline Notebook, maps.


Write down:

  • Chapter numbers
  • POVs
  • Name of each character as that character is introduced
  • Plot lines as they begin
  • Events in each chapter


  • Writing that needs work
  • Writing that works


  • Does this character have a place in this book?
  • Has a character changed appearance?
  • Has a character changed in other ways? If so, do I explain why?
  • Are all plotlines carried through?
  • Are all plotlines resolved?
  • Have all conflicts been resolved
  • Does this scene matter?
  • Have I followed the rule of 3? (If it appears twice, it should appear three times)

Talk things out

Discuss my proposed solutions with my PRH and my lovely sister

Plan and plot

  • Rewrite the outline
  • Rewrite the plot spreadsheet

Rewrite, reorganise

Now fix all the things I thought were wrong, rewriting and reorganising as needed.

ADDED: Check that every chapter ends in a way that keeps people reading, and that every chapter begins with a hook.

Edit for spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice

  • Check capitalisation
  • Eliminate qualifiers
  • Evaluate adverbs
  • Remove superfluous movement
  • Tune dialogue attribution
  • Check whether ‘that’ is needed
  • Remove filter words

To See (See, Sees, Saw, Seeing, Seen)
To Hear (Hear, Hears, Heard, Hearing)
To Feel (Feel, Feels, Felt, Feeling)
To Look (Look, Looks, Looked, Looking)
To Know (Know, Knows, Knew, Knowing)
To Think (Think, Thinks, Thought, Thinking)
To Wonder (Wonder, Wonders, Wondered, Wondering)
To Realize (Realize, Realizes, Realized, Realizing)
To Watch (Watch, Watches, Watched, Watching)
To Notice (Notice, Notices, Noticed, Noticing)
To Seem (Seem, Seems, Seemed, Seeming)
To Decide (Decide, Decides, Decided, Deciding)
To Sound (Sound, Sounds, Sounded, Sounding)

Read out loud, marking anything that doesn’t work

Fix, and let it go to beta readers


8 thoughts on “Editing the book

  1. Pingback: #amediting part 2 |

  2. 12% of the draft left to outline. I’ve found that I write like I knit. I see all sorts of places where I’ve dropped stitches and lost sight of the pattern. I can see so many things I can do to make it better, and I’m itching to get started.

    • Any of the words in the indented list below ‘filter words’ remove us one step from the action, filtering our perception of what is going on rather than immersing us in the characters experience. That’s the theory, anyway. I know I use ‘look’ a lot!

  3. Did the scenes for the first half of the book on the train. I can already see places to cut, places to tighten, characters that aren’t needed, places I need to seed information for later in the book.

    So exciting!

Love hearing from you