author, creative writing, writing

Reasons to Love Editing Your Novel

Many writers have a love/hate relationship with editing. My favourite writing quote, and one I refer to often:

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” – Shannon Hale

I love the idea of shovelling your words onto a page and later coming back to craft them into something bigger and more beautiful. The editing process of novel writing can be incredibly daunting, tiring and tedious. But it’s also a magical process. Which is why I wanted to share some of the reasons to love the editing stage of writing a novel.

1. You get to read through your raw ideas/thoughts
I don’t know about you, but my first “edit” is essentially me re-reading what I’ve written and highlighting weak areas/sentences/words. And although it can be disheartening to see the pages fill with more and more bright yellow highlight, it’s also wonderful to read those raw, early ideas. For many writers, the first draft is a slightly messy stream of events, but with all your ideas crammed in. And though some of them may be cut or heavily altered it’s still a great feeling to see how much thought and effort you put into that draft.
novel writing (5)

2. You have more control
In the first draft, I’d say what you have above all else is freedom. You are writing everything that may or may not end up being relevant, because that’s what a first draft is; getting words on a page. And although nothing really beats the excitement of that freedom, it’s a powerful feeling to be in control. Future drafts and edits give put you in charge of a story, and this time the plot is already out there so you’ll hit slumps and blocks less frequently. In editing, you take control of your words and mould them, shape them, cut them and add to them.
“i give myself a good cry if i need it. but then i concentrate on the good things still in my life. i don't allow myself any more self-pity than that (2)

3. You improve as a writer
I’ve spoken recently about ways to improve your craft as a writer, and one of these ways is to edit. Editing forces you to decide what works and what doesn’t, it pushes you to make weak sentences stronger and develop your characters. When you move onto writing other novels going forward, your previous editing will have improved your skill, and will continue to go so as you write and edit, and write and edit.
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4. You can’t submit/publish a novel without editing
The hard truth is first drafts will never be published. And you wouldn’t want them to. Whether you’re self publishing or taking the traditional route and submitting to agents your book needs to be edited to its best possible standard. And that’s why editing is so exciting. Because each round of edits brings you closer to the ultimate publishing goal.
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5. You get to interact with other writers
Seeking feedback from Critique Partners or Beta Readers is scary,  but incredible. It gives you an outside eye for feedback on plot, tension and enjoy-ability alongside the more practical things like grammar and spelling. And through the process you’ll get the chance to connect with other writers, make amazing friends and form a close writing bond that sees you support each other going forward.
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6. You strengthen your story
Edits are where you fill in the plot holes, iron out the issues, ensure all loose ends are tied. It’s where you use your hindsight of the ending to drop hints and clues into the earlier chapters. It’s where you use your character’s fate to strengthen their arcs from the very start. And all of this combined is what turns your first draft into a full novel with no mistakes.
let's start fresh!

7. You’ll be so proud
What better reason to edit than for a huge sense of achievement? Editing takes persistence, patience, time, mental energy…never give up! Keep going and you’ll be so proud of yourself when it’s done. (And so you should be!)
novel writing (5)

How do you feel about editing? Love it? Hate it? Drop me a comment to let me know your thoughts and feelings.

Until then
Keep editing

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31 thoughts on “Reasons to Love Editing Your Novel”

  1. I just started to write my first novel. I´m a very novice writer but I decided that since I don´t have the time nor money to take writing classes .After reading through WordPress for 5 years now, I picked up some techniques hence decided to take the leap and dedícate myself seriously to this novel. Glad to find your blog, I find your tips very helpful and for the first time I can completely relate to other people who take this writing ¨thing¨seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I quite like editing. The trouble is, it seems a never-ending task. I re-read the start of a novel that has been out there for a while. I wanted to start all over again. I could see so many things I wanted to change and improve.
    When is editing finished? I could go on finding things to improve forever, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Such a great point. Every time I say “this is my last read through” it never is, and more edits begin. I suppose there’s a case for accepting that nothing will ever be perfect, and sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge and get it out there 🙂


  3. pub’d kdp version of latest novel a month ago, realized it was full of typos! Jusr couldn’t muster the will to read it one more time before giving it away. Alas, that is a big rookie mistake. Finally read it through with a hiighter and got it corrected and re-sub’d with all corrections. Such a terrible and tedious process. After reading it so many times you lose all objectivity or whatever it’s called and the story just seems like shit. Maybe it is? Oh well. That’s an occupational hazard , yo. Thanks for the nice article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your honesty. We all make these kind of mistakes, you’re not alone. Agree completely, it’s easy to be too close to the story. You know what it is supposed to say, so it’s easy to gloss over mistakes and typos. Thank you for reading x


  4. Great post, Meelie! I usually hate editing when I’m doing it because it’s always so daunting. It’s all worth it in the end, especially when you can see-as you pointed out-how much editing improved that awkward first draft.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I self published my first novel last year, bought some author copies and sat down to read it. My first reaction was, “Who wrote this?” There were typos, double words, mistakes in punctuation you name it. Of course I THOUGHT I’d edited it. I pulled the novel and spent almost two months editing it again.

    1: I sat down with the red pencil and found every typo I could, mispell, and so on.
    2: My wife did the same.
    3: I fixed what we found.
    4: I sued the economy of words and discovered I love using three words to say what one will. Our came the red pencil.
    5: Got rutless with adverbs and adjectives. a lot of words ending in -ly fell by the wayside.
    6: Ran it chapter by chapter through Grammarly and Hemingway and finally just plain old word.

    End result, 40 pages and over ten thousand words lighter. Much tighter and better read.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like big picture revisions but dislike editing. Also, I thought of my first drafts being published and I shuddered lol. This was a fun post — I loved the positive spin. Editing is when you get your hands dirty and learn about the craft of writing, and I do love that part. 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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