Editing my fantasy novel


I am trying something a bit different with my edit of Snow. Well something new for me. I am following someone else’s editing plan to the letter. Every step of their plan and it’s a strange thing. Usually I take bits from others but not follow someone else’s plan so directly.

The plan I’m following is that of Susan Dennard.

The first step is to read through the manuscript and mark up the problem areas. As I read and marked with coloured lines (according to the instructions) I thought all was going well. There was a lot to do, lots of comments and coloured marks but I thought “it all works to make it stronger” and I’m sure it will.

The next step is to develop an outline. I did this, again as per the instructions, using index cards. I found this useful because I didn’t really have an outline before I started. This novel was written by the seat of my pants. It has been edited several times, so I had a reasonable idea but still found the actual process with a pen in hand quite useful.

I wrote out a summary of each scene, then went back over each and marked where there were problems, such as too long, too short, no antagonist or conflict. Then I put the two together, marking up each scene card with a sticky note from the notes I made when I read through. I started with plot issues and worked my way through the pile.

It was during this point that I thought, why am I using what works for someone else. It doesn’t feel like it’s working for me. It is just repetition; I’ve done this bit already.

But I persisted and by the time I started back through the pile of cards with the character issues it was starting to make more sense. Some index cards came through this process with no sticky notes but most had at least two and some are so covered I couldn’t see what was there originally.

With the marked up index cards and the notes of what I wanted this book to be I started on the hard stuff – although fun stuff. Putting all those needed changes into the manuscript itself. This takes time. It needs to take time to ensure that I am doing it properly. I have been pounding away at this stage for a week now and only a couple of chapters in. But I have found the process quite useful. If I was to do it again (with the next project) I might look at it a little differently but so far I’ve found Susan’s plan more than helpful.

There is a long way to go before the next stage, which is typing all my changes in. Although it might be worth considering typing in some changes as I go, if it helps the process to continue to flow.