Edit Wars: Rewrites Strike Back

star wars meme editingWelcome to the fifth post in the How to Edit Your Novel series. Let’s see… At this point you’ve had beta readers, you’ve edited, and then the realization hits. This thing needs improvement. Not just typo fixes and quick word re-arranging. I mean substantial restructuring!


Seriously, that’s how it can feel sometimes. What about all that work I’ve already done? I’ve already spent months/years on this thing! Ugh, I want to be published yesterday. Etc. Etc.

But the thing is, how dedicated are you to your story? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make it the best it can be? Really?

I remember coming back from a conference totally deflated. I’d been through a Donald Maass workshop, and I knew my novel needed work—a lot of work. Could I really go through all that? Did I really want to? It took me a few weeks of mulling things over, but I decided it had to be done. So I spent the summer rewriting.

And you know what? I had a much better story. Much better.

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Going Cold, Then Going Bold

Welcome to part 2 of the How to Edit Your Book series, Going Cold, Then Going Bold. For some of you this next part will be easy. For others, perhaps a little more difficult, but either way it’s an important part of the process.


jae scribbles carboniteBack in October 2012 I finished up with some major revamps with SHADE and decided it was time to put it into cold storage. What this means is you lock it in a drawer (physical or digital) and leave it alone, untouched. For a full manuscript, I’d recommend a month if at all possible. You can use that time to get in some reading—very important to increasing your writing skills. Or you could work on short stories, another project, or try tackling the always looming query letter. Never hurts to get an early start on these things.

The reason why you want to leave it alone is the longer you’re away from your project the more clear any errors and plot holes will become when you start editing it again. While writing the vision of your world is clear as crystal in your head, but not always that clear on paper. Getting away will help your vision tell you how well of an accounting you made on paper.


Once you’ve given it awhile to chill, time to pull it back out and get ready to hack and slash. At this point I wouldn’t send it to beta readers or friends because you want to give them the strongest manuscript possible so they’re looking at a project cleared of errors you’ve already been able to spot. There are a number of ways you can do this. Here’s the way I get it done.

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