Let’s face it, editing is hard! But it’s also something you need to do to level up your writing game. The good news? You’re reading it! In this blog post I’ll be giving you some tips on how to edit your novel, from the first reread to the beta readers. Let’s jump straight in!
Read the text before editing
First things first, you should have a clear view of what’s in your story. Start on your first chapter or prologue, and read everything until the very last word. But don’t just read! As you follow your story, you’ll notice many errors or things you have to correct. Resist the temptation of doing so now, and instead take notes of everything you have to change. This will let you get a clear view of the story as a whole before changing anything. You don’t want to make more errors that you’ll have to correct later, after all!
Using Manuscripts to edit your novel
Manuscripts is our writing software, and it not only has all the tools you’d expect from one, but it also has an amazing integration with your World Anvil content! With it, you can follow the full writing process for your projects, from drafting to publishing. This is how Manuscripts looks after finishing your novel:
Pretty straight-forward layout, right? Chapter structure on the left, the search bar at the top, settings on the right, and the actual text in the middle.
You can use Manuscripts to both track your reading progress and keep contextualized notes! The labels feature lets you color-code chapters (or even individual scenes) so that you can know at a glance the point where you stop reading in the last editing session. And every chapter and scene has a Notes section in the right sidebar, where you can write all of your thoughts for that part! If your story has multiple points of view, make sure to set them using the P.O.V Character field —this will be important soon!
Edit your novel structure
After you finish reading, you’ll probably notice that some scenes are out of order —or even whole chapters! This is especially common when your novel doesn’t have a completely linear structure, or if you have multiple points of view too. Speaking of which, it’s important to have a good spread of POVs too! Make sure there’s a good balance in the number of chapters narrated by different characters, or your readers might get the impression that you just forgot about a character!
Changing the order of chapters is extremely easy in Manuscripts. Just drag and drop the chapters in the left sidebar! And checking points of view is just as easy. If you set up everything in the previous step, simply click the title of your manuscript in the left sidebar and the Review button on the right side. This will bring up the Review mode (see below), where you can see the POV characters:
If the number of points of view are not balanced, just drag and drop the chapters in the left sidebar until they’re in the order you want them!
Check character voices when you edit your novel
Everyone is unique in how they speak, and so are your characters! But when you’re writing the first draft it can be difficult to remember the voice of each character, let alone actually make their lines have that voice. So, when you edit your novel, this is something you should always check. If a character doesn’t speak like a reader expects them to, they’ll feel disconnected from the story!
A great way to keep consistent character voices is to note down how they speak in their World Anvil character articles. Write about how they speak, their favorite words, what they tend to compare things to (that’ll be related to their background and experiences) and their level of education. All these things will help give them a voice that is utterly unique! And you can even choose some words or expressions that only they use. Then, when a character is speaking or narrating, use the search tool to pull up the character information from your world. It’s all in the same tab —as straight-forward as it gets!
Mind your descriptions!
Descriptions are very important for the story because they let the reader imagine what’s going on more easily. But they also have to be to the point! If you’re an underwriter, that is if you tend to write fewer words than you should, make sure to expand on your descriptions. But if you’re an overwriter, which is the opposite, you might have to cut out some of the text!
Luckily for you, Manuscripts can also help you with that. If you’re an underwriter and already have an article about a location, just look up that location in the Manuscripts search tool. The article you wrote will probably have descriptions that you can use or tweak for your scene! And if you’re an overwriter, make sure to move the parts that you delete to the location’s article —let’s not waste your hard work!
Check for naming inconsistencies
Sometimes you accidentally change character names in the middle of the story. Or maybe you came up with a name for your fancy sci-fi contraption, but then while you’re writing you come up with one that sounds way cooler! Well, when you edit your novel you’ll have to go back and make sure that everything is consistent. And guess what can help you? Manuscripts can!
The search tool I talked about in the previous section has a mass replace tool. Simply type in the new name and click the replace button!
It’s time for beta readers
Having someone else read your novel before publishing is a must. Because they haven’t been working on the story for months, they’ll have a fresh view of it. And that’s extremely valuable! They’ll point out plot holes, exposition dumps, things that are difficult to understand, and other things you need to improve. Make sure your beta readers are able to provide detailed constructive feedback into every single chapter —one sentence long comments are not useful at this stage!
Managing beta readers with Manuscripts is a breeze. Make sure your Manuscript is set as private and then publish it (in World Anvil, published doesn’t mean public!). Then, use subscriber groups to give beta readers access to the Manuscript. They’ll be able to leave private comments on every chapter so that you can keep track of their reading progress and quickly reference their feedback from each individual chapter.
Give me more details!
Manuscripts is a big piece of software, and we just scratched the surface here! Take a look at the Writer Workflow Guide if you want a walk-through of the full writing process using Manuscripts. Or check out the Guide to Manuscripts for more details on every single feature!
In the end, the way you edit your novel will depend on how you work best as a writer. That’s how unique you are! But no matter what your workflow is, using Manuscripts will definitely improve the efficiency of your editing process. And I can’t wait to see what you write next!
Make sure to create an account to use Manuscripts and improve your editing!