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Editing process - here I come!

I’ve been quiet on my blog for a few months because alongside the day job - I'm a freelance copywriter, publicist, events organiser and more -, the micro-press - Stewed Rhubarb Press - and of course my lovely family, I finished the first draft of my second novel just in time for Christmas. A busy autumn!


Any writing intended for publication has go through a number of stages, and these are mine for a novel:

1.      Idea - the spark of inspiration

2.     Planning - working out how to get it down

3.     Rough outline - to keep track as I go. It's a very rough note!

4.     First draft - get that story down

5.     First edit – developmental + outline + characterisation

6.    Second draft - sort out plot holes, character behaviour, make sure there are three acts

7.     Second round of edits – character details + dialogue

8.     Beta readers - vital feedback

9.     Third draft - the one that will get sent out

10.   Proofread – there are definitely typos, weird autocorrects, all sorts in there + prep synopsis & submission


The editing and draft phases can be smooshed together a little depending on the piece, the writer and the editor, but in some form or another, all these stages need to happen or the writing won't have had the best possible chance.

There are many fine folks who provide editorial services – developmental, character, line and proof reading, and as a writer, it’s important to know the difference. Moreover, if and when a novel is accepted for publication, another round of edits, and possibly some large changes may happen again. I intend to do a developmental edit at this point, with an eye on character, and then coerce some pals into being beta readers. I was very lucky to have a handful of excellent and trusted readers for my debut novel and their input was invaluable.


I was glad to finish my novel before Christmas as this was great time to take a break from the manuscript. I know that I rushed some parts of the first draft because I needed to get the story down, and that’s as it should be. There are a few parts with research holes. A break is absolutely necessary once the first draft is done to get a bit of distance on the writing. I’m ready to dive back in.


Photo of a woodland path in low afternoon sun, the trees have lost their summer foliage. I feel that I'm a this stage - the novel exists, the path exists.

It’s time for my developmental edit. I’m going to be looking for the big problems – issues with the plot or the characters mainly. As I wrote the first draft I really got to know my main character very well, and I am aware that some of the things she did in the first few chapters are not right for her. Of course, if I spy any language or spelling issues, I’ll pick them up, but it’s time to read my novel as a reader with the power to change the story.

I find this stage really fun.

I’ll be taking notes rather than changing it as I go, picking out my themes, checking all the main parts of the story are there. It’s good time to write an outline of the novel too – it will be a useful map and ultimately, a timesaver down the line. I find it’s a great way to think about whether I need to add any scenes, subplots, keep track of the comings and goings of secondary characters too.


I expect this stage (6) to take a couple of months, and I think I may slip into step 7 and 8 without taking a break as I just have. I'd really like to get a professional editor on board for the third draft, but we'll see.

I’ll keep you posted: as I'm now in the editing phase, I intend to blog more regularly again. Let me know in comments if there are any particular aspects of the writing process you'd like to hear more about.

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