Editing Tips #3

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My second round of edits focuses more on the big picture; the developmental edit stage. I look at the story as a whole and make sure, first and foremost, that it makes sense. I make sure every character has a point and every scene matters. 

I like to make scene cards first. I’ve debated on doing this in the plotting stages or during the first round of edits, but the focused questions feel more like a deep edit task. 

The scene cards do a lot of work. They identify the POV and the goals for the scene. Knowing the goals of the scene drives the character motivations and interactions. If there’s no purpose for the scene, it shouldn’t be in the book. I also make notes for the setting on the cards. 

After the scenes are all accounted for, I work on plot lines, themes, and character arcs. 

This stage could be the most in-depth part of the second pass. Creating scene cards is time-consuming, but tracking every thread can put the entire story into perspective. So, I end up using several pieces of paper and post-it notes and all kinds of supplies to dive into this. 

I start with a list of every element that I feel is important. By the end, I will have compiled more things that I even noticed were present in the first draft. This could include characters, character relations, settings, props, types of interactions, food or drink items; the possibilities are endless. And when I realize there are these threads throughout the story, I can flesh them out more so they are more evident to the reader and I ensure that their line finishes out satisfactorily. 

As I track these themes, I make notes on where scenes need to be added to the draft or if just a rewording will suffice. Sometimes the answer is to cut instead of add, and that’s okay too. It’s hard sometimes, but if it makes the story better, it’s necessary. 

Notice I mentioned characters. Use this time to make sure all character arcs happen intentionally and have a solid resolution. And you can also make sure all characters matter. 

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So that wraps up my overview of the first few steps in my second round of edits. In a few weeks, I’ll go through the last three exercises I work through to make my next draft as well as I can. 

Thank you so much for reading!

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment or message. 

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