Editing the first draft

I finished the first draft of my latest manuscript, Nothing to Fear, at the end of last year. So what comes next is editing. I always print out the whole manuscript so I can sit on the couch and go through it with a coloured pen.

I love using a bright colour because it stands out against the black text and is nice and cheerful.
So I’ll read through the manuscript, fixing spelling and grammar, rephrasing clunky sentences and looking for inconsistencies in the plot. I also look for areas where I need more description, more emotion, and a deeper point of view. I ask myself whether the dialogue is realistic and flows well and check whether there are enough actions and reactions to what is being said.

This usually takes me a couple of days. If I find I get to the stage where I’m just reading the words and not marking up anything then I take a break and put it aside for an hour or two. By the time I reach the end, I’ll often have more coloured pen on my page than text! I’ll also have a list of scenes or foreshadowing I have to add so that everything makes sense.
The next step is to make the marked up changes on the computer. I go through it twice, a chapter at a time. The first pass is just making the changes I’ve identified, and the second pass is to read the chapter and see if I can identify new areas I need to change. It means I’m kind of doing two edit passes at once, and I find my next full read through needs far less mark up on it.
If you’re interested in more editing tips, make sure you check out my book on Self-Editing.