Are you at the stage of writing when you're ready to revisit your manuscript? If you've got a first draft - but have put it away for a few weeks, even a month - to give yourself the head space you need, well done! You might not even need to read on as it sounds like you know what you're doing.
But if you're a sucker for writing-related tips, you've come to the right place.
We've compiled four tips to help with the editing stage of your story.
1. Make and keep copies of your drafts
This one isn't for everyone - Jeanette Winterson professes to deleting files and burning papers of manuscript that she's worked on and felt just didn't work.
But if you're not one for creative, dramatic flair, then it might be a good idea to hold onto previous drafts. However you work - whether that's on Google Drive, Word Doc etc., create a folder for your WIP and keep all the different iterations of your story in one place.
If not only to see how your story has developed, but also to read back, perhaps steal words, scenes that may not have felt right in your last draft, but now do. It's great to be able to borrow from your very own library.
Writing and editing is like trying to complete a thousand-piece puzzle. With grit and determination, you will do it. It's just a lot quicker if you have all the pieces close to hand.
It's probably wise to date them as well to keep track with your most up to date story.
2. Keep a list of questions
Every good story asks a question, but more often than not, a great story will ask more than just one. If you like a list, why not create a list of questions that you want to answer in your story? Find out what's at the heart of the story; the important questions you're going to ask of your characters and plot.
Read through your manuscript and when you find a moment where you've answered one of those questions, tick it off or write it down. This way, you'll be able to keep track of all the strands of your story and ensure they're neatly tied up by the end of the story.
3. Write a chapter summary
Even if you've already written a synopsis or a chapter outline, you should still write a chapter summary. If you can describe the crux of each chapter in a few sentences, your story will be all the tighter for it. Think of each summary as a mini pitch for your chapters.
4. Make a list of your favourite words
Yes, another list. But you should've known that reading an article in a list format was only going to lead you to more of them...!
It's imperative that a good writer and editor should read. A lot.
Re-read your favourite books, explore new genres. Read voraciously and keep a list - whether if it's a Word Doc or a note on your phone - of turns of phrases, descriptions, anything that strikes a chord with you as a reader.
This isn't stealing, but creating a reserve of word inspiration for you to dip into any time you feel inspiration is lacking.
We'll be hosting an event all about editing on Saturday 21st March 2020. At our How To Edit Your Book event, you'll learn how to become a more objective reader of your work with a day of advice and practical exercises from professional editors in the publishing industry. You will receive help and guidance on how best to approach the editing process, and develop the tools you need to make your work the best it can possibly be ahead of submission to an editor, literary agent or publisher. Along with an invaluable one-to-one session with an editor of your choice, find out how to take your editing to the next level.
For more information about the event and how to book your place, click here.
DISCUSSION POINT: What are some of your go-to habits for revisiting drafts and editing? Share your advice in the comments below & be in with a chance of winning a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook!