1. Try Editing Your Novel with a Fresh Mind and Eyes
After you have written your novel and checked for minor errors, it is normally good practice to keep your novel aside for a few weeks or even months and let your mind forget about it. This helps you to look at the novel with a fresh perspective hence you are likely to find a few more errors than you would have previously found.
2. Use Beta Readers
Being close to your novel for a long time will sometimes make it impossible to look at it from the reader’s perspective. Therefore, it is a good idea to find some people you trust so as to read the novel for you and then send you suggestions on how to improve it. They could be your writing or editing partners. Try avoiding family or friends as your beta readers. You can do this in exchange for a favor which might go a long way in motivating your beta readers.
3. Try Listening To Your Novel
It is also a good idea to listen to your novel. This is a very easy way of detecting unclear phrases and wordings. There are several ways you can do this. You can decide to read it out loud yourself, to your partner or find an audience that might care to listen as long as you can hear yourself reading. Alternatively, you can find a friend to read it out to you as you listen and also you can make use of your computer’s in-built narration software or download one if you do not have it already.
4. Identify and Remove Your Crutch Words and Phrases
We all have those words or phrases that we tend to use over and over again. You might want to avoid this in your novel. If you know your crutch words, it will become easier in identifying and replacing them using the Microsoft word’s Find and Replace Feature. Besides, there are some online tools and other system inbuilt tools, depending on the gadget you are using, that help automatically discovering your clutch words. Despite the method you are going to use to discover your crutch words, it is essential that you go back through your novel and find a way of removing or replacing these crutch words or phrases.
5. Write Up a Checklist For Your Editing
It is also very important to write down a checklist of the points you would like to go through while editing your novel. In most cases, these points are supposed to be genre-specific, for example, when writing a romance novel, put down points that will help you in examining how your love story progresses. You can structure your checklist in a question format so that by the end of it, these questions should be answered to your satisfaction.
6. Maintain Your Point Of View
Stories are normally written in a particular point of view. Go through all your scenes and ensure that they are told in point of view that is consistent throughout the novel. If it is not in a consistent point of view, then make sure that it is fitting with the style of the novel. Incorrect point of view will tend to confuse your readers hence you should ensure that you re-write the novel in a point of view that is understandable and consistent with the flow of the story.
7. Ensure That All Your Characters Are Relevant To The Story
All characters in your novel must have a role to play in the story. Each character should have a way of contributing to the flow of the story, be it in a minor way or a major way. Characters should not just exist in your story for the sake of existing. Also, make sure that your characters are believable and well-rounded in terms of emotions and appearance. To make your characters more original, make sure that there is a clear differentiation in what they do, how they speak and how they move.
8. Know The Global And Local Issues To Be Addressed
Global issues require changes to be made throughout the entire novel. For example, if you want to change the dynamic between characters, then you have to make these changes from the beginning to the end of the novel where these characters have been featured. On the other hand, local issues do not require massive changes to be made. For example, changing the dialogue in a specific scene in the novel will only require you to edit that part of the story without having to go through the entire novel.
Read more from Stacey Carroll
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