Editing the Novel – Ouch!

Rena George Editing your work, Mellin Cove Series 10 Comments

I’ve just typed THE END on Mistress of Mellin Cove, so that’s the novel finished – all written up … Phew!


Except that it’s not It’s where the really hard work starts.


                   IMG_0482 THE EDITS!!


Now that I’ve reached this stage I thought I would describe a little of the process that’s ahead of me.


Since I have been editing and tweaking the first draft as I’ve gone along, it’s more than just a sketchy template. It is, however, only a FIRST draft and there is still much work to be done.


For me that first major edit is the most important one. It’s the moving and shaking time when an author can take an overview of the manuscript and decide what’s working, and what’s not.

It’s my opportunity to take the book apart and ask questions such as:

* Does the plot hold up?

* Does the characterization need tweaking?
* Does the continuity make sense?


I read it through first, resisting the temptation to get the red pen out and make changes. That’s not the purpose of this initial read through. I basically need to reassure myself that the whole thing makes sense, and that everything is in the right place. If it’s not then I make a note and correct the problem in the next read through,
Only when I’m completely satisfied that I’ve done the best I can, do I move on to the next edit.

Prettying up the MS

* Is this the best word I could use?

* Can I switch that phrase around for better effect?

* Can I sharpen up that sentence?


It’s the time to get rid of the clunky bits, the awkward sentence structures, and the embarrassing clichés that crept in without my even noticing.

The manuscript then has a copyedit, when I’ll be looking for wrong spellings, literals, duplicated words, double spacing, unclosed quotes, basically everything that shouldn’t be there.


It’s the time to grit my teeth and put up with my computer’s grammar check –


“This is fragmented – consider doing it this way”


I know it’s fragmented. I did it on purpose – for effect. I’m a writer!

When I’m satisfied that my manuscript is as good as I can possibly make it, I make it better.

IMG_0477I email it to my Kindle, which provides the opportunity to re- read it as a proofreader would. If I find a mistake, I make a note of it and go back to my computer document and correct it.

I lose count of how many times I edit, but my reputation as a writer is on the line here, so I don’t stop revising until I am absolutely certain I’ve got it right.

I have been a professional writer all my working life, but I am not an editor, or proofreader. And while the three are writing related, they require completely different skills and expertise.

So while I strive for perfection, I fear some discrepancies still might slip through, which is why, this time, I’ve sought the help of a professional proofreader to give my book its final polish.


And I’m really looking forward to receiving her report. I’ll keep you posted.


Have a great week, everyone. Rx

Comments 10

    1. Post

      Thanks, Suzanne. I don’t know about you, but I used to hate the editing process, and regarded it as a necessary evil to be done and disposed of as speedily as possible. I soon realised my mistake. That first draft is just the shell of the work, the edits and revisions is where the magic happens. Once I realised this I actually began to enjoy it. Rx

  1. Interesting to see how you do it Rena, and good idea to get someone else to have a look at it, as we can easily miss things our-self I think. Then you have more time for writing. Look forward to hearing more. xx

    1. Post

      Hi Susan, I’ll definitely be letting you know how I get on with the professional input. Proofreader, Wendy, seems like a lovely lady. I’m really looking forward to working with her. Rx

  2. Hi Rena – I don’t know why it’s taken me all this time to find your blog, sorry! Great post, and you’re right – most of us are not proofreaders or editors. A good editor is invaluable and helps our writing move on too. All the best with your novel.

    1. Post

      I’m really pleased you found me, Rosemary. It’s lovely to see you here, and thanks for leaving a comment.You’ll know all about the value of good editors. Apart from helping improve the manuscript, just knowing that a trusted professional eye has been over it gives a self-published author so much more confidence. Rx

  3. You are very disciplined, Rena! It is very easy to let things slip through – I can reread something a dozen times and miss mistakes, then a couple of months down the line when it’s been rejected and I’m in the process of rewriting, the mistakes leap out at me and poke me in the eye! It will be interesting to hear how you get on with the professional proofreading x

    1. Post

      I’m not really all that disciplined, Teresa, writing it down like this just makes it seem so. The fact that I do all these checks and edits is more to do with bolstering up my confidence than it has to do with diligence. I’m not expecting to hear back from the proofreader until mid May, but you’re right, it should be interesting. I’ll certainly be posting about it. Rx

    1. Post

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