Edit.  Edit.  Edit.  If anyone thinks their novel is ready to hit the shelves/agents/editors/Amazon after one or two drafts, I’d say they’re kidding themselves.  Top notch writing (i.e. writing that at least stands a chance of getting noticed/taken seriously) needs to be exactly that: top notch.  And this means editing. 

For me, getting words on the page is only 30% of the task.  The lion’s share, the other 70%, is all about the ‘re’s’: rereading, revising, rewriting.  Then rereading, revising, rewriting some more.  And some more.  And then some more.  

Personally, it’s the part of creating a novel that I love, but here are my top tips to make it fruitful:

1/ Re-read your text in different fonts/ugly fonts, which will help highlight any awkwardness or clunky phrasing. 

2/ Read your text on different formats (laptop, iPad, Kindle, main computer, etc.), to keep your eye fresh.

3/ Try editing at the time of day you’d expect your target audience to be reading e.g. evening, in bed, on a train.  Does the tone fit?  Does it feel right?

4/ Dive in at any point in your text (e.g. mid-chapter, half way through) and start editing from there.  Coming into your writing ‘cold’ really makes you think about how the words work.

5/ Read out loud, particularly dialogue, to assess the ‘flow’ of your text.  Just imagine you are reading to a room full of opinionated editors…

6/ LEAVE IT.  For a day, a week. a month.  Preferably a year.  Time away from your words gives you great perspective.  When you re-read you will see it afresh.

Happy editing!

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