Why must I revise and edit my novel?
Even writers with great talent and skill revise and edit their works. Everyone makes simple
typographical mistakes and slips of grammar that a quick edit will catch. Further revision will strengthen your novel and
help develop your personal style. I would recommend putting your novel away for a while after it is first written before
attempting to revise. You will find it easier to be tough on yourself. As well, have interested friends read your work with
the intention of recommending changes. Even though they may not be professional writers or editors themselves, they will
still provide you a separate reader's perspective, which may help you make changes you might not otherwise make.
For What must I look?
Most editing can be caught be having a few educated friends read your novel. In my experience,
I did not even have to ask my friends to catch these mistakes. They mentioned spelling, punctuation and grammar errors without
For good revision advice, if you have not had formal writing education in college, I suggest
attending a seminar on writing and style and purchasing a helpful resource.
The Writer's Market
contains information on associations that host conferences with writing seminars. I attended
, a mystery writer's convention put on by
Mystery Writers of America
, in August 2007 and went to the seminar on editing and
revising by Chris Roerden
. At her seminar, I finally started
to understand what to revise in my novel, and her book,
Don't Murder Your Mystery
has been a wonderful resource for me. Her suggestions span the genres, and she is a professional editor.
When will my book ever be ready?
If you're like me, right after the first draft is done, and then never. Getting the first draft
completed takes much effort and time. Even knowing that I am just trying to get my thoughts on paper, I still will do quick
on-the-fly editing and revising as I write my first draft. Because of this, a part of me just wants to get the novel out there
once I am done with this phase. I have learned to quell that impulse. At this point, I start letting friends read it, set it
aside myself, and continue work on other novels. After enough time has passed, I take it out again to begin revising it. By
this time, I have heard back from several friends and can make the editing changes they have suggested.
I also have to stifle the feeling that my novel will never be good enough to publish. Even after
submitting it to agents, I still find things I feel I should change. Many resources say to never submit your work until it is
the best it can possibly be, but for me, that would mean I would never submit it. Obviously, some balance is needed. After I
have gone through a few rounds of editing (and now better revising), I start putting together the query letters and synopses
that will be needed for submissions. Even though I know I will find more that can change, I know that I need to get the ball
rolling if I plan to ever be published.
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