Saturday, November 19, 2011

The pen is mightier than the sword with Emerald!

As we near the end of November and NaNoWriMo, some people may be considering the best way to edit their novel. 

There’s never one right or wrong answer. Each novel requires a certain amount of attention.  Some take longer than others to edit. It’s okay, but here are a few things that will help the revision process, I think.

Meet Emerald Barnes
First of all, take a small break from your novel. Let’s face it. We’re consumed with what we’ve just written, and when we’re consumed with it, it’s easier to miss mistakes. We’re still in the lovey-dovey stage. It’s easy to miss the bad.

When you come back to it, don’t be discouraged. Chances are you’ll be saying the same thing I did after re-reading it from a small break. “This is crap.” It’s not though!  It just needs to be reworked some. It’s okay. You can make it work! 

Take a red pen to it. Print out your story.  Read it. Mark it with a red pen. (Warning: This may cause horrible flashbacks to high school term papers.) Mark the things you see that don’t work for you along with grammar mistakes, inconsistent sentences, etc. 

Here’s a check list I find helpful in the revision process:
·        - Is the plot line cohesive? Does it flow, or are there pieces of the puzzle missing?
·         -Are the characters believable?
·         -Is the dialogue realistic?
·         -Are there any confusing parts? Slow parts?
·         -Are my characters too chatty?
·         -Is the reader in the scenes or too distant from them? Are there too many filter words?  
·         -How does point of view work for the reader?
·         -Is there enough action?
·         -What about the dream sequences? Do they work or distract from the work at hand?
·         -Do you tell or show? 

Each of these things aren’t necessarily bad. You have to know what works for your story, but I think these are a good start. 

If you’re like me, you DESPISE revision. Sometimes I wish I could write the perfect story with perfect grammar and execution. But since no one is perfect, we have to make sure we know what we’re doing in our revisions and edits of our beloved novels! 

The most important thing I want to leave you with is this, Please. Don’t get discouraged.  Revision is daunting at best. It’s easy to lose ourselves in making it better. Let me tell you a secret. We’ll always want to make it better, but eventually, you have to learn when to stop and say, “Okay.  I can do this.” Take a deep breath and keep writing. 


  1. Sweet! Lots of authors suggest that you should edit, but few share the exact details on how to revise a work in progress. Thanks for all these great tips!

  2. Well, I think every book is different, but I think these are a helpful start! Thanks for commenting, and thanks for having me Christine! :)

  3. Thank you for being here Emerald! I 100% agree with you Carrie.

  4. Thanks for this, Emerald! I also use checklists when I'm doing revisions. First drafts are so flow-y and free, but revision can be a bit mechanical, and that's a good thing. :-)

  5. Thanks, Dalya! I agree. They are flow-y and free, and I think editing needs to be more mechanical. Although, I have to admit to disliking the mechanical parts to writing. ;)

  6. There's revision and then there's REVISION. I have, twice now, written a novel that just didn't work in structure & plot. Each time, I eventually gave up revising and just rewrote, keeping very little of the original because I had to invent so much new material. This is why I no longer do NANO.

    However, I love the line editing, and even the scene-level editing... the technical details are a lot of fun when you're confident that the story as a whole is working.

  7. Well put Sarah. I agree time limits work for some. And I admire your zeal in editing. It's a gift.