author, creative writing, writing

Novel Editing: A Love/Hate Relationship

Morning storytellers and world travellers. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week.

I’m going to jump straight to it; does anybody else have a love/hate relationship with editing? I certainly do!

I asked on twitter this week, if I’m mad because I am really enjoying editing my novel. There was a mixed response, but overall the general reaction seemed to be that sometimes people love to edit and sometimes they hate it.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to list some of the reasons we writers hate to edit, and the flip-side positive of those points. In other words, a reason to love editing.

1. Editing is not as fun as writing a new story
Most writers are full to the brim with ideas, with new story inspiration hitting them all the time. This can make it quite hard to stick out the gruelling task of editing. I too struggle to put future projects to the side to edit. New ideas are shiny and exciting, and nothing quite beats the early stages of building a world, characters and a story. Editing just simply isn’t the same…

The Flip-Side:
Editing breathes exciting new life into your story
You may be working on the same story, but editing your novel breathes new life into it and makes it exciting again. In editing you are able to make mediocre sentences amazing, turn boring characters interesting, and force slow plot points to be fast and twisty. Your first draft is only ever a basic starting point, but in editing you create your real story.
writing (11)

2. Editing highlights all my terrible writing
Writers, in fact all creatives, are super self critical. It’s just the way that we are. And undoubtedly, when writing the first draft, you wrote some pretty lame sentences just to keep the story moving while you figured it all out. I know I did.Β  Reading my first draft made me cringe in many places, and left me filled with doubt and anxiety that I could ever actually write an amazing novel.

The Flip-Side:
Editing highlights all my amazing writing
Yes, I did just say I cringed my way through my first draft. But even my pesky, self-doubting inner voice was silenced from time to time when certain parts of my writing left me feeling proud. The positive to editing is that you get to see all your great writing, as well as your bad writing. And as you move into further edits, seconds drafts, third drafts and beyond, you start to feel better. You start to enjoy the majority of your writing, not just little bits. And that is really, really rewarding.

3. Editing is a long process, and takes forever
Okay, yes. I’ll give us that, it is a long process. Because the number of edits and drafts you will end up doing is completely unknown. I am on edit four at the moment, but this will not be my last. Everybody is different. And depending on how much free time you have to edit, it could well take a long time. Editing is a long slog, and writers have to kit themselves out with a fierce determination to keep going.

The Flip-Side:
Editing takes you a step closer to where you want to be

No agent or publisher wants to see your first draft. By editing and continuing to craft your story, you take steps closer to your goals. When editing, remember why you’re doing it. Remember how important it is to take these baby steps and to keep taking them even when the going is tough. You’ve finished a novel. This is incredible! So many people start but don’t finish. So you can be sure you can finish your edits too. Keep going.
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I really hope this blog post might serve to give you a reason to push on when editing your novel gets tough and tiresome.

Do comment below to share your thoughts on the editing process, or contact me anytime if you’d like to discuss it further.

Until then,
Keep editing,

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22 thoughts on “Novel Editing: A Love/Hate Relationship”

  1. Editing is the greatest part. A cool plus point is that sometimes, one chapter becomes three chapters with some work, upping your page length if you struggle to get to 300 pages or something.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Frank! Thank you for commenting and sharing your thoughts. You are completely right. My word count has soared in edits, and it’s a real positive feeling. πŸ™‚ Thanks again x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there’s one more thing to editing, the fact that if you do the passes one very soon after another, you get to know it and attention to detail (which is crucial here) will be lacking.
    It’s one of the reasons I started working on first draft of second book between second and third draft of book one, so I am creative as well and not looking at the same thing all the time. It also gave me hint for the story arc in long term and rebounded some inspiration back to first book as I knew better where some characters will head. It’s double-edged blade, unfortunately, as it tend to make me want to go on (and even start writing first draft of third book) while there’s so much left to do on the first one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me once the first draft is complete I understand what I am trying to do and have a clearer picture in my mind where the story should go. By having those things I can edit with a clearer mind and focus at a deeper level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! The first draft is always, I think, just trying to work it all out. When it’s finished, the beginning often doesn’t match up any more, not in the little details anyway. Edits are a necessary evil! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit, I like editing. The opportunity to improve, and tweak, and not having to be coming up with ‘what happens next’. I like that you’ve given the flip-sides to negative editing thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are the same reasons I enjoy it πŸ™‚ I’m glad you do too, I think it makes the whole writing experience more enjoyable overall. Thank you! And thanks as ever for stopping by, it means alot xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Editing is my favourite part of writing too, for all the reasons here. It’s like being a detective and going into a bloody crime scene and piecing together all the evidence until it makes sense. The part I do hate is how endless it feels. Thanks, as always, for nailing the process in a great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello!
    You mentioned some great points here, and I love that you ended on a positive and encouraging note. I agree that editing is so essential when it comes to crafting a story (not first drafts are terrible!) However it is true that editing feels endless at times- Even after I finish drafts 2, 3, and 4, I am certain that more edits are needed!
    Happy writing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I once knew someone who felt that editing was where the real writing began.
    In some ways I find I prefer editing. The brainstorming and rough draft stages are so open, almost blindingly so. But once I have a rough draft, I have something to react to. If I feel like a scene is too “flowery”, I can start asking myself “what’s the opposite of flowery?” Granted, there are multiple alternatives, but each wrong answer is like another guidepost to the right one.

    Liked by 1 person

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