5 Steps to a Thorough Book Edit
“Nothing can strike fear in the hearts of writers like editing. But if you’re going to improve your story, a thorough book edit is something that must happen. With the right tools, mindset, and preparation, it doesn’t have to be scary at all!
The fun thing about the writing and editing process is that everyone approaches it differently. Sometimes writers approach different books with different methods, since each new book is not the same as the last. You’ll take bits and pieces of what you’ve done in the past and mix it up with tips you’ve read in a book or blog, trying to find the magic that makes this book sparkle…
[H]ere’s how you can tackle a thorough book edit, based on suggestions made by your beta readers.
1. Read Through the Suggestions
I count myself blessed to have K.M. Weiland as one of my beta readers, and her suggestions are gold. That being said, there were a LOT of things to address, from simple word choice all the way to dramatic changes in structure, to scenes to remove, and chapters that needed relocation.
Over two days, I read through everything she’d sent me (and my book was huge, a little over 150,000 words at the time) and would sometimes verbalize my assent to what she’d said or ask a question aloud—’What did she mean by this?’ Or, ‘Gosh, that’s really one of my weak areas, I’m going to need help with that.’
When I completed the read-through, I had a lot to mull over, especially since I was on a deadline.
2. Ask Preliminary Questions
I had a lot of questions, right off the bat, the most pressing of which I sent back to Katie. Other things needed to stew in my mind before I could tackle them.
I also have the tendency to want to talk things out. Why is this scene not working? If I did this, would it work better? Should I change POV?
I’ve been known to talk with beta readers for two or even three hours at the local Panera as we discuss a handful of chapters of our books. Not an option with Katie, since we live about 600 miles apart, but our e-mails back and forth were probably more on point anyway. Sometimes, the mere act of just asking a question would be enough to spur me into a possible answer, and at that point, I just waited for Katie to confirm my gut reaction.”