Editing Your Manuscript

I have been an avid fan of the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it is popularly called since I first took part in this annual writing competition in 2009. After that I have successfully completed NaNo, for short, in 2010, 2011 and more recently in 2012. In essence, this means I have written 50,000 words every November for what we call our NaNoNovel, for the last four years on the trot.

Some one asked me in a recent interview, ” How much time do you spend on writing each day?” and ” When do you write?” amongst other questions. Strange as it may seem, I said ” I write most of my novels in one month and spend another 10 months editing them.” That’s true! I usually spend another two or three months adding to the 50,000 words written in November. I am deeply interested in thrillers and my first three NaNoNovels have all been thrillers. “It Can’t Be You” came out of my NaNo effort of 2009 and “Lucky For Some, 13” my recently published thriller was essentially written in November 2010. The manuscripts for thrillers would typically be about 80,000-85,000 words.

Then comes the tough job of editing. Steve Thompson’s article “The Three Types of Editing” gives you useful information. In my experience much of the editing time goes for proof reading because during NaNo I usually write in haste. This has made me coin a phrase, ” Write in haste. Edit at leisure.” You can never be a in a hurry to edit. It is a methodical process where there are just no short cuts. Every word in every line, yes, all 80,000 of them need to be checked. You check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and you will be astonished at the number of mistakes that have crept into your writing.

This will vary from person to person but again in my experience, I have needed relatively less time for line editing and substantive editing. There are many advantages in getting someone else do this for you. they can be more objective and spot mistakes you may have overlooked. There are of course costs involved in the process. I have never sought external paid services for editing but then as a retired person I have all the time in the world for my writing, a luxury which many of you don’t have.

Editing is a crucial element of the writing process, make no mistake about that. It is so important that you have a great manuscript when you move into the submission process. Errors at this stage are likely to result in your work getting rejected, however brilliant you might think it is. Your final product, in the form of a published book, has to be error-free and that calls for a lot of hard work.

So, if the NaNo celebrations are over, now that we are well into December, get down to editing which is the first step towards making your dream to have your novel published come true.

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