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What to do Before You Edit Your Novel

Rachel Saylor

Oh yeah, back to that story ⬆️

It might be tempting to dive straight into editing after you've completed your first draft of your novel. There are two things you need to do before you jump into that editing process. First, let your novel rest for a while. It is good to let your mind take a break from your story so that you can come back to it with a fresh perspective. Second, after you've let your mind rest for a month or so, read your novel. Get comfortable, with a pen and paper nearby to jot notes on, and let yourself take the time to read all the way through it without editing. 

To say I was apprehensive about actually opening Jasper's Mountain back up to begin the process of rereading my first novel, is an understatement. My brother-in-law, critical reader and editor, pioneered this process a few weeks ago. I even let him know I was nervous about him reading it, fearing that what I'd written was total rubbish, and would need to be tossed out entirely. 

As I sat in my chair, laptop in hand, ready to dive in, I blew air out of my mouth to relax and let my eyes scroll down the pages. Surprised at how quickly I read the first 25 pages, I wondered if my book was an appropriate length. Would it really be the fastest read ever? Even though there are over 50,000 words, is it written too simply that it will take a reader a mere two hours to plow through the novel? 

All of these questions are arbitrary, as there is no set time that it must take a reader to complete a book. Yet, when rereading what you've written, your mind can panic at the questionable relatability of what you've written. 

Creating a doc where you write down thoughts, questions or holes to your story as you read along can be a great tool for editing use later, and as a way to keep your cool while reading through your book. There are notes on notes that I have written myself. Rewriting your work is a must when it comes to the editing process. It is a bit overwhelming as you crack the door open to this new land, but know you are not alone.  

Perhaps you've rewritten essays and shorts, but a whole novel? Well, here goes nothing, right?!  

Taking the first steps into this unchartered water, skepticism and doubt follow in tow. Don't worry, there is a waterproof bag full of hope and childlike optimism with me, and you too can choose to carry that with you. I think it is how we are going to make it. 

Next week I'll let you know my overall impressions after rereading my first novel cover to cover.