Editing Tips: How To Edit A First Draft

Hi everyone, IT'S 2017!!!  And I'm back with a writing blog post!!

Editing a first draft can be very daunting, especially for new writers.  First drafts are usually a complete mess, and it's scary to approach editing the first draft when it's such a mess.  But with a little preparation and brainstorming, you'll find that the editing process is much less overwhelming than you thought.

I've been editing my current project for a while now, and I feel like I have found both helpful techniques and unhelpful ones.  So today I thought I'd share these tips!! :)

1.  After finishing your rough draft, LEAVE THE PROJECT BE.  Yes, I KNOW, you're dying to go back and reread that one scene in chapter 14, or make that data consistent that you changed halfway through the book.  But it really is best if you just leave your project entirely for at least a week or two and let your mind sift through everything before coming back.  You'll be less likely to burn out quickly and more prepared to tackle the project with a plan of action in mind.

2.  Before doing any editing, read through your entire manuscript and make notes.  Read your manuscript from "cover to cover" (preferably in one sitting or two if you have the time), and keep your eyes open for any big-picture problems involving things like plot holes, lack of character depth, lack of subplots, and setting inconstancies.

Also, in a separate notebook, take notes of the things you should change.  DO NOT EDIT WHILE YOU READ.  Just quickly take note of smaller fixes you need to make in the notebook and move on.  Also, this does NOT include writing style, word choice, or grammar and spelling.  We'll be saving that for later.  You can organize you notes however you want (by chapter, topic, importance, etc). :)

3.  Color-code your notes.  This is DEFINITELY fun.  Depending on how you organized your notes, color code your notes accordingly.  For instance, if you decide to organize your notes by chapter, color code what each item you wrote down was (such as blue for characters, green for setting, pink for plot, etc.).

4.  Make a roadmap of your novel.  If you made an outline before you started writing, use this instead.  But if you didn't (like me), take some time to make a quick roadmap of your novel.  Write down chapter headings and a brief listing of the plot points and scenes under each chapter.  Also, leave some room to fill things in, we will be coming back to this roadmap later.

5.  Cross reference your notes with your roadmap.  This is a very important step.  You are looking at a snapshot image of your novel (the roadmap), and a list of the things you WANT your novel to be at the end of editing (your notes).  Use these tools to figure out WHAT changes you specifically want to make, WHERE the changes should be made, and HOW you should go about making them.

Furthermore, looking at your notes, feel free to add to or take away from your roadmap.  For instance, if you wrote down in your notes that you want to showcase the relationship between two characters more, maybe add a conversation between the characters to a currently boring scene or create a new scene in your roadmap.

6.  Go through chapter by chapter and have at it!  Use your notes from your read-through as a to-do list, and go through slowly, fixing each item you wrote down and crossing it off accordingly.  TAKE YOUR TIME, editing shouldn't be rushed.  If you want your manuscript to be that beautiful piece of art you know it is, you gotta put the time in. :)

Bonus: BUY SCRIVENER.  Scrivener is a writing application for both PC and Mac computers that is ADORED by writers all over the world, including myself.  Scrivener makes organizing and moving chapters and scenes easy.  It also allows you to store character and setting profiles, research, and photos all in one flexible document.  With literally dozens of amazing features, Scrivener is almost PRICELESS to me.  I've been using it for over ten months and I highly recommend it.  Click here to find out more!  (And no, Scrivener did not pay me to say that. XD)

I hope this was helpful, even in the littlest way!!  Have a GREAT week full of writing, I'll see you all next Saturday. :)


  1. Great tips! I'll keep them in mind as I edit. :D

  2. Cool tip's I'll have to check back on this post once I start editing :P Thanks for the post dude


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