Why You Should Edit Your Novel Backwards Plus Other Possibly Insane Yet Effective Editing Tricks

writing blog post

I recently finished a major revision of a novel I’ve been working on since 2015. You read that right. I’ve spent almost three years with this novel, in which I’ve gone to hell and back. And trust me when I say that is not an exaggeration. I used several editing strategies with this novel that I’ve never used before and I’m convinced it has made me a better writer and editor. After 10 years of writing and working on multiple manuscripts here is my best editing advice:

Revise the manuscript backwards. Meaning, if you have thirty chapters in your book start editing Chapter 30 first, then Chapter 29, and on down. I don’t know why I’d never tried this before, but it is my new favorite technique. You see things going backwards that you don’t see when editing in a linear fashion.

Color code the thing if need be. Again, this is something I’d never tried before. My writing mentor said there wasn’t enough body language in my book. So what did I do? I printed the thing out and highlighted all the body language in orange. If there was no orange on a page or the color didn’t appear for several pages I looked at where I could add body language in. This was painful–VERY painful–but man did it work!

Map out chapters in Excel. Chapter length wasn’t something I took a serious look at before. I tracked the length of chapters in Excel as well as charted characters’ feelings to make sure they were changing. If there were too many or too few pages between chapters I looked at where an alternate break could be made.

What about you? What unique editing techniques have you tried? Share in the comments.

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P.S. I also wanted to share that I have an agent 🙂 I’ll write a longer blog post about how I did it, but I’m happy to say I’m now represented by Penny Moore of Aevitas Creative Management.

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