Using The Rainbow Editing Method [Editing]

We all know that I’m not the best at self-editing. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I tend to end up proofreading rather than editing. I know what I want to fix but can’t figure out how to fix it. So I skip it to “deal with it later.” And that’s not good for any writer and their novel.

I’ve decided to give myself a good kick and really make 2018 count. No more “prep” for this or that and then never following through. I like to think I’m a hard worker, but I’m pretty slow. I think I’m ready at this point to finally do something about my writing and I think it shows in my editing.

Using The Rainbow Editing Method |

A few months ago I talked about Rainbow Editing your manuscript. It’s all about using various colors for different parts of your novel. For example, I use the colors in the following way:

Red – Typos, spelling, grammar
Orange – Dialogue, description, pacing, tenses, etc.
Green – Plot changes
Blue – Character development
Purple – Research and fact-checking
Pink – Overall structure, vocabulary/word replacement, etc.

I started using this method to edit The Scribe this month and I can’t express how impressed I am that it’s working for me.

Instead of losing steam after 10 pages, I edited over 60 in one sitting. Which, admittedly, is a big deal for me. My manuscript is marked up with mostly orange, green, and blue with a little red, purple, and pink sprinkled in. I’m cutting probably about 75% of the story, so the majority of the pages are filled with a giant green X.

I think this method helps me focus on one thing at a time rather than looking at the whole picture and getting overwhelmed. And no, I don’t go through a chapter six times in a row for each individual color, I look at each page, each paragraph, and think to myself, “what’s not working here?”

After I mark up a paragraph or a few with green and/or orange, I look back at it making sure the character development makes sense, that the paragraph should be in that spot, etc.

It’s hard to explain, but it actually works and I have to say I’m impressed.

It’s a slow process, but it definitely helps. The pages of my manuscript are so colorful and maybe I just get easily distracted by pretty things that it’s holding my attention more: “How much color can I splash on this page?”

In all seriousness, I have to rewrite more than half of this story, which I’m in the process of. So… it’s going.

I still have about two weeks to finish the rewrite and give it another good edit. I still plan on publishing the story onto Wattpad in January. So, wish me luck!

Are you editing your NaNoWriMo novel right now? Do you try different editing methods or tend to stick with a certain way? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Critiquing For Other Writers

Editing is hard. It’s even harder when you don’t know how to edit or what to look for when editing.

It’s especially even harder still when you’re editing someone else’s work. And when you believe that someone is a better writer than you? Well, how can you edit their work confidently?

Critiquing For Other Writers

I’ve talked about editing all month long with various tips and tricks and advice on editing. This post isn’t going to be like that. Instead, it’s going to be more like a “pep talk,” if you will.

Yesterday I talked about why I think it’s important for writers to be part of some sort of writing or critique group. I’ve had my group for over two years now. People have come and gone in the group, but it’s still going strong and I hope to have my group for many, many years.

Yet, each month I take a look at all the chapters I have to read through. I typically read the work as a reader and then I go back and read it again as a writer. It helps me get a feel for the chapter. It also helps me focus on editing rather than just reading.

This is because I believe all my group members are better writers than me.

This could be for a number of reasons:

  • As a writer, I naturally suffer from self-doubt so I believe everyone is a better writer than me
  • I’m the youngest, so in terms of “experience” in writing, everyone has more than me
  • They may actually be better writers than me

I like to think that no writer is better than another since we all have our own writing styles and people are going to either love, like, hate, or think your writing is just okay. Everyone has different tastes.

Still, when you’re in a group with other writers, you can’t help but think they’re all better than you.

When I read their work, I read through it a few times. I find myself getting immersed in the story, getting wrapped up in the plot and characters. Before I know it, the chapter has ended, I’m eager to read more, yet I haven’t made a single mark on the page.

How can I edit something that’s so good? How can I make corrections when there are none?

Typically, there are mistakes. There are parts of the chapters that could use some help. But I have a hard time seeing them.

It isn’t until we actually meet that the host asks, “What could be improved with this chapter?” I typically wait for someone else to speak first and bounce off from what they say. I wait for someone to say, “I didn’t like this,” and then I can think about myself. Sometimes I agree, but sometimes I can disagree and form my own opinion as to why.

But why can’t I look at it that way when I’m reading the story myself?

I don’t know.

Editing is a learning curve and I definitely find it harder to critique someone else than your own work. Still, you live and learn.

With each new piece I get, I think back to the previous meeting and look for what we discussed they could improve on and see if they did improve on the next one. I’m slowly figuring it out.

It’s hard to look past the feeling that all the other writers in the room are “better” than you. You just have to remember you’re all there to learn. Everyone has their own writing style and unique voice. You’re all writing different stories and possibly different genres. Someone may have been writing longer than you have, but you’re all in the same boat.

Have you ever got the feeling that everyone else is a better writer than you? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments below!

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8 Reasons Why Joining A Critique Group Is The Best Decision

A few years ago I remember posting on my blog seeking a writing group. I was looking for something online because I was working full-time and going to school full-time.

I knew a writing group would help me with my writing, but I didn’t know where to start. I had no idea where to look for such a group.

The day after I posted something on my blog about it, my dad ironically found an article in the newspaper. Our local library was putting together a writer’s critique group. Kris and I looked into it and we joined immediately.

We’re still part of that group to this day and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

8 Reasons Why You Should Join A Critique Group

I’ve always heard pros and cons about joining a writer’s group, but I’ve found it to be more helpful than harmful. So, here some reasons why I think every writer should join a writer’s group.

1. Editing Skills

When I first joined my writer’s group, I was taken aback at the feedback I received. When I read their pieces my thought was, “Wow! This is really good!” I liked all the stories and I wanted more. I didn’t really have too much to say because I couldn’t find any mistakes.

But there are always mistakes. There are always opinions. What did you like? What didn’t you like? I’ve learned a lot about editing over the past few years I’ve been part of my group. I know the right questions to ask and know what to look for when reading someone else’s work.

2. Writing Skills

Just like editing, you learn a lot about writing as well. As you read the work of your fellow writers, you’re looking at different writing styles and ideas. You learn from one another to help with your own writing process.

3. Inspiration

Stuck on something in your writing? Feel like something isn’t working out or you have writer’s block? Ask your group members for their opinion on what you should do next. They’ll help generate ideas and then you can pick and choose and try out the different ideas because deciding what to do next.

4. Socialization

Writers aren’t the best at being social. Having a group of writers is great because it gets you out of the house and gives you social interaction with other humans. Not only do you find a great community of writers, but you’ll also make new friends as well.

5. Promotion

Have a blog? Share it with your group. Finally getting that book deal? Throw a party with your group. Your writing group members are most likely your first fans. Plus, you can bounce promotion ideas off of one another as well.

6. Self-Confidence & Thick Skin

When I first joined my group and submitted my first piece I was nervous. I’ll admit, there was a sick feeling in my stomach when people told me what they liked and what they didn’t like about my work. Taking criticism is hard to get used to. However, there will be people out there who absolutely love your work and there will be people who think you’re a terrible writer. Everyone has their own opinions, their own tastes in books.

Your writing group will be honest and help you along the way. Through that, you’ll gain thick skin in taking criticism as well as gain self-confidence in your own work.

7. Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to keep writing. Having a deadline to submit something to your group can either help or hinder that motivation to write. For me, it usually boosts my motivation to keep writing. I want to keep up with the members of my group and I’m also excited to share what my novel has in store for them next.

8. Writing Time

We all complain that there’s not enough time in the day to get our writing done. Having the deadline of the group will help with that. In a way, it’s kind of like homework and you end up making sure you find the time to get that writing done.

Are you part of a writing group? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Radically Revise Your Novel

Radical revision is a term to revise or rewrite your current draft. It’s a tool to help your reimagine your story.

This is a method I learned in school when I was working on my English degree. I’ve kept the notes these past two years because I found it to be helpful and a pretty cool method. It didn’t seem so at the time because it was homework, but I do think it helps.

How To Radically Revise Your Novel

What does radical revision do?

The point of radically revising your novel is to try something new, something different you wouldn’t normally do. Rewrite your current draft in a new way and see which one works better.

It may or may not work, but you’re experimenting, getting to know your novel and characters at a deeper level, and you’re practicing new forms of writing.

In a way, I guess you could look at this as a hardcore writing prompt.

Radical Revision Styles

1. Voice/Tone and POV Changes

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve done this before. I’ve had to rewrite my entire mystery novel manuscript to be in the viewpoint of a different character.

So, try rewriting your novel using a different voice or tone for a character if something isn’t working out. If your protagonist isn’t the right fit to be the main character, rewrite in a different point of view.

Test it out by just rewriting one scene or chapter. If it seems to work, go farther with it. It will give you a new perspective on your novel and give you more insight on your characters. You’ll learn a lot about what you’ve created, trust me.

2. Time Changes

Is your novel written in present tense? Try writing in past tense.

Write the novel using flashbacks and flashforwards, allowing plot info to sprinkle about here and there.

Tell the story backward. Start at the end and work your way towards the beginning.

Change the overall time period. See how your characters cope and change.

Changing the time and the way you convey the story can show you a lot about your plot. You’re looking more in-depth at your plot and zeroing in on certain aspects of your novel. Something that isn’t revealed until the end may be revealed earlier. And that could change the entire story, which may not be a bad thing.

3. Layout

Writing a novel? Try writing it as a script. Try writing a chapter as a poem.

It’ll give a brand new look to your manuscript allowing to challenge your mind and possibly switch around some ideas. Plus, writing scripts calls for bare-bones dialogue and quite a bit of description as direction. Switch things up and focus on one over the other and see what happens.

In Conclusion…

As I said earlier, these are kind of like big writing prompts. Still, if you have the time, and you feel as though there’s something not right with your story but can’t figure out what, try rewriting it using one of these methods.

It can’t hurt to try and you’ll learn something new about your novel and also about yourself as a writer.


I only mentioned three radical revision styles above, but the notes I have list a few more. I listed the three above because I find them to be the most challenging and straightforward way of rewriting. Still, I thought I’d add the other two methods in case anyone was interested.

  • Genre Change – Turn your story into a fairy tale, short story, recipe, or letters. Or, change the overall genre, turn it from romance to mystery to anything else.
  • Art Piece – Tell your story using pictures or write songs about it.

Is this anything you would like to try? Have you tried it already? Let me know in the comments below!

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How To Find A Great Beta Reader You Can Trust

Finding beta readers isn’t as hard as you would think. They’re everywhere as long as you know the right places to look.

But before we go into where you should find your beta readers, let’s talk about the characteristics you would like your beta readers to have.

Because, of course, you want to have the right beta readers on your team, right?

How To Find Beta Readers You Can Trust

Your beta reader should…

  • Be your targeted audience. For example, they should have an interest in the genre you write and be the appropriate age.
  • They aren’t afraid to say what they think. They shouldn’t be afraid to tell you the truth about what they think of your book. If you have a beta reader who has absolutely no problems with your book, chances are something’s not right.
  • They’re not close friends or family members of yours. People close to you will have a tendency to bend the truth a little bit. You want someone who knows what they’re doing and, like the previous point isn’t afraid to speak their thoughts.
  • They’re readers. Find beta readers who read a lot. They’ll know what to look for, know what they’re doing. Bonus if they consistently read the genre you wrote.
  • They’re writers. This isn’t a must, but it helps. Writers understand writing like no one else does.
  • They’re brand new to the manuscript. If someone has already read your book, don’t ask them to be a beta reader. They won’t have that element of surprise or that, “what’s going to happen next?!” feeling.
  • Ideally, they’ll have a good grasp on publishing. They’ll know what makes a book a good one.
  • They have extra knowledge on the topics of your book. For example, if you’re writing about mental illness, ask a beta reader who has knowledge in that field. If you’re writing in a certain location, ask someone who’s been there or lives there. They may know things you didn’t.

Well, then! Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Where do you find these kinds of beta readers?

  • Writing groups. Join a writing group whether it’s online or local, whether it’s a place where writers hang out or critique each other. You’ll make new friends and find a lot of things in common, including your manuscripts.
  • Workshops and conferences. Again, attend workshops. Most writers there are in the same boat as you. Make new friends and help each other out.
  • Social media. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook groups, other blogs, etc. Writers are everywhere. You just have to strike up a conversation.

How do you get them to beta read for you?

  • Create real friendships. Writers need other writers to survive. Don’t go up to a stranger and say, “Hey, we’re both writers! Will you be my beta reader?” Be genuine. Get to know them, as a writer and as a person. You can help each other out, but you can also just hang out as people together and have a good time.
  • Offer something in return. Don’t find beta readers for the sake of helping yourself out. Beta readers do this for free so it’s only common courtesy to offer something in return. This can be offering to beta read for them when the time comes.
  • Ask questions. You want to know that they’ll be the right fit for your book. Ask they’re general interests, what they typically read, etc. Then you can decide together whether your book would be the right project for them.

In Conclusion…

Finding beta readers is easier than it seems, but it doesn’t go without working hard.

Just keep in mind that you’re not only looking for a beta reader, but you’re looking for a new writer friend as well. It doesn’t have to be strictly business all the time.

How have you found your beta readers? Are you looking for some now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Beta Readers: Who Are They And What Do They Do?

When it comes to writing a book, you may often hear the author searching for and requesting beta readers. This happens during or after the editing process and before the book is published.

A beta reader, also known as an alpha reader, is a reader who agrees to read through a written piece of work, usually fiction. This is to help the author make some last minute decisions with the book before publishing. Beta readers are like test readers to give the author a sense of how well their book may be received by the targeted audience.

So, what exactly do they do?

Beta Readers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

What They Do

Beta readers can do a lot of things that include, but are not limited to:

  • Checking for spelling and grammar
  • Looking more in depth at the plot, continuity and other elements of the story
  • Give their overall general impressions of the story – what they liked and what they didn’t like
  • Help improve the story overall

You may be thinking to yourself, “This is very similar to an editor.” Well, yeah. I can agree with you on that.

Still, an editor is searching for mistakes. A beta reader is reading your novel as your audience would. They will give their honest opinion and feedback to you about the novel similar to a book review, but with added flare (slight editing).

Beta readers help give your story that extra boost before you hit the “publish” button for all the world to see that plot hole on page 151.

Why else do you need a beta reader?

Often when we write, we know what we’re trying to say. It’s all in our heads, but it may not come out on paper that way.

As a writer, you describe something and think that’s enough because you know what you’re talking about. But the readers sometimes won’t. Beta readers will catch that.

The Report

Beta readers will give you a “report” on your novel. It’s like a cross between a book review and a little editing. They’ll speak their honest opinion about what they liked and what they didn’t like. What there was too much of something in the story, what there was too little of in the story. They really break it down.

The best part? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

That means if you give the same manuscript to three different beta readers, chances are you’ll get three different results.

In the end, it’s your novel, so you decide which pieces of advice to us and which not to us. Still, look at it all and really think about it.

And, if all your beta readers agree that something in the book is not working, definitely take a look at that.

Is a beta reader worth it?

Yes. Yes, I think it is. It’s another pair of eyes looking at your manuscript and it’s your very first reader who maybe become a fan.

Beta readers’ opinions are so important. Take them with a grain of salt, but don’t ignore them.

Have you had beta readers before? What was your experience? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Highlight Editing

Similar to rainbow editing, highlight editing zeros-in more on your manuscript.You’re not marking up your plot and characters with various colors, you looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

In rainbow editing, you’re marking up your plot, characters, and setting with various colors, taking an in-depth approach to your looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

In highlight editing, you’re looking more into mechanics and the smaller details.

You could use rainbow editing for this as well, but I find highlighting to be easier and you can use both in the same draft.

Your manuscript will look gorgeous if you do.

Highlight Editing


Use highlight editing when you want to replace certain words, sentences, or phrases in your novel. Use different colored highlighters for different things to swap out later. For example, assign different colors to look for:

  • Cliches
  • Vocabulary (add stronger words)
  • Repetitive words or phrases

Work towards making those phrases more specific and concrete.

The “W” Questions

Some small details don’t matter, but others do. It all helps out with the background of the story and gives the readers a little bit more to go on as they delve deeper into the story.

Ask yourself these questions as though you, the reader, is in the story:

  • Where are we?
  • Who are we?
  • When are we?
  • How do things look?
  • What time period are we in? What time of year?
  • Is it day or night?
  • What’s the weather like?

Some details, like the weather, can be small, but they can add a lot to the story and allow the reader to really feel as though they’re in your world.

Use a highlighter to answer these questions (and similar questions you can think of). If you can’t find the answers in the text, then your reader won’t know the answer. Make a note and ask if it’s really important to add. If it is, add it in somewhere you won’t disrupt the flow.

In Conclusion

Highlighters are a lot of fun and they’re made to make things stand out to us. When editing, you want to make notes of things to add, delete, or change. Highlighting these things in different colors is not only easy (and pretty!) but it’ll save you some extra editing of later drafts and will be easy to look back on later.

Have you used this method before? Do you do anything similar? Let me know in the comments below!

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57 Questions To Ask When Editing Your Novel

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The last time I talked a lot about editing on my blog I wrote a post called 35 Questions To Ask When Critiquing A Novel. It was a popular post and it seemed to help a lot of people out.

So, I’ve decided to update it. Between notes I’ve kept from school, my writer’s group, and personal editing of my novels, I’ve come up with an updated list. The 35 questions from before are included in this list, but it’s more organized and there’s a lot more to think about.

57 Editing questions to ask when editing your novel | Editing | Novel Editing | Editing questions |


1. What are the conflicts (internal and external) in the story? Is it known right away?
2. What is the central conflict of the story?
3. Are there too many conflicts happening in the book at once? Or is there not enough?
4. Are all the conflicts important to the story and help drive the plot forward?
5. Is there enough tension?
6. Are there any plot twists to throw the protagonist and the reader off track?
7. Is the plot clear and believable from the beginning?
8. Is the plot interesting? Will the readers be able to relate to points in the book?
9. Is the plot resolved at the end of the book? Is the reader satisfied with the end?

Setting, Locations, & World Building

10. Does the author create a believable setting?
11. Is the setting vividly described? Are there too many details or not enough?
12. Is the setting, time and date period, all consistent throughout the book?
13. Are there enough locations in the book or not enough?
14. What are the rules of the world?
15. Is it clear whether the story takes place in real life or a fictional world?
16. Is the time period clear from the beginning?
17. Is each new location clearly distinct from the last? Is it easy to tell when you’re in a new place?

Character Development

18. Is the protagonist clearly introduced as the main focus of the story?
19. How do you feel about the protagonist? Do you sympathize with him, care about what happens to him, and do you share his emotions? Does the character feel alive?
20. Can you relate to the protagonist or any of the other characters?
21. Does each character have a background, hobbies, etc.?
22. Are the secondary characters helpful and push the story forward? Do they each have a purpose?
23. Does each character grow by the end of the book?
24. Can you see the characters? Are they described well or not enough?
25. Are there too many characters or not enough?
26. Does each character have a unique voice and personality?
27. How are the names? Are there names that are too similar to each other? Are some names too hard to pronounce and read? If so, which ones?
28. Which characters need more developing? Are some characters not needed?

Writing Style

29. Can you hear the dialogue? Is there too much dialogue or not enough?
30. What is the point of view of the story? Is it consistent throughout the novel? Do you think the POV was a good choice for this particular story?
31. How is the pacing of the story? Does the story drag at some points? Do some parts happen too fast?
32. Is each scene easy to read and flow well right into the next?
33. Are there scenes in the book that don’t drive the plot forward?
34. Does the author show instead of telling?
35. Does the overall tone work well for the story?
36. Is there enough emotion in the story? Were there enough happy, sad, angry, tense, etc. moments?
37. Were there any inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or setting anywhere? Were there any contradictions? If so, where?
38. Is there too much dialogue in some parts?
39. Is there too much description in some parts?

General Thoughts

40. Does the opening of the story hook you? Do you want to read more? Why or why not?
41. Were there any parts you wanted to put the books down? If so, which scenes and why?
42. Did any parts confuse (annoy or frustrate) you? If so, which parts and why?
43. Did you know fairly quickly where the story took place, what was going on, and who the story was about?
44. Was the book too long or too short?
45. Did the first and last chapters work?
46. Does the title fit the plot?
47. Is the book appropriate for the targeted audience?
48. Was the ending satisfying and believable?
49. Were there a lot of typos, grammatical or spelling errors?
50. Does the writing suit the genre?
51. Are there any scenes that need to be elaborated more or deleted?

Opinion Thoughts

52. What do you think the moral of the story is? What message is the author trying to get across to their readers?
53. Who was your favorite character and why?
54. What’s one line that you loved for whatever reason?
55. What is the strongest part of the novel?
56. What is the weakest part of the novel?
57. What is your overall impression of the story?

Of course, not all of these questions have to be answered, but it’s a good starting point.

Did you find this list helpful? Have any other questions to ask? Let me know in the comments below!


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9 Steps To Editing Your Novel

One question I tend to ask myself when editing my novels is:

Where do I start?

I make a list of notes to edit as I write. Sometimes I’ll write a scene and make a note whether it’s really needed or not. Sometimes I make notes about the characters or the pacing of the story.

Yet, even though I have that list, I begin editing and I find myself just reading. I’m reading like a reader, not editing like an editor.

But first drafts are always terrible, right? So there’s a lot to go through, a lot to think about, a lot to change. It takes a long time and a lot of extra drafts and trees.

So, I’ve decided, in an attempt to get myself a little more organized with my own editing, I’d come up with a process for it. Maybe this will work, maybe it won’t. But who knows, maybe one of you will find it helpful.

9 Steps to Editing a Novel

Step 1 – Take a break

I know this is an odd first step, but hear me out.

Once you finish writing that full first draft, step away from it. Let it rest for a while. I typically wait at least a month, sometimes longer. Give your characters a break and let your mind rest from that grueling plot. This way you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Step 2 – Print it out, mark it up

Print out your manuscript double-spaced (for plenty of room to make notes) and double-sided if you can (sorry, trees!). Then begin your read-through and edits.

Be sure to look for any developmental errors and line edit to give it a thorough read through. Also, have sticky notes, index cards, highlights, various colored pens, etc. You want to be able to tell the difference between all your edits and still be able to somewhat read the page when you go to type it back up again.

Step 3 – Take a break

Self-explanatory. Wait another month or at least two weeks.

Step 4 – Rewrite and edit

Take your edits from the first draft and type it back up again. As you rewrite, edit some more. You’ll catch mistakes you didn’t before and your mind might change on some things. For example, you may disagree with an edit you made or you may add new edits that you left alone before.

When this is done, print it out again.

Step 5 – Tag, you’re it

Let someone else look at it. You can:

  • Get beta-readers (two or three or how many you’d like)
  • Ask a close friend or family member who’s not afraid to be truthful and mark up your manuscript
  • Submit it to your writer’s group (if you’re part of one)
  • Hire an editor

You can pick and choose from this list or you can do all of them. It’d be a good idea to get this set up ahead of time and let them know you’ll have the manuscript to them by a certain date. Give them a realistic deadline as well.

This will allow you to see your book through the eyes of a reader and get various opinions on it as well as general editing critiques.

Step 6 – Rewrite and edit

While others are looking at your novel that’s kind of like your break from it. When they give it back, get started on it right away. In case you have questions for them, you can ask them in a timely manner since the manuscript will still be fresh in their minds.

Rewrite the draft and edit as you go really thinking about the feedback you’ve received.

Step 7 – Repeat Steps 2 – 4 (Optional)

Depending on what stage the writing of your novel is in, you may have to give it another thorough self-edit. If this is the case, repeats steps two through 4. Print it out, mark it up, take a break, then rewrite making the edits to the new draft.

If your manuscript seems ready after having others look at it, you can skip this and go straight to the next step.

Step 8 – Proofread

Print out the manuscript one last time and give it one last read through.

Proofread it for any last minute changes like typos, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. Have someone else proofread it for you as well. It’s always good to have another pair of eyes.

Once the final corrections are made, you should be good to go.

Step 9 – Rewrite and submit

Add in the proofreading corrections and then you should have a polished manuscript on your hands. You can them submit your story to where ever you want.

In Conclusion…

This is the process I’m going to take for the mystery novel. I just started the first major edits this month and I hope to be done by the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, how it works out for me. I’m hoping to be done with the manuscript by the end of 2017, but hopefully earlier.

Do you use a similar process to edit your novels? What kind of process do you use? Let me know in the comments below!

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Rainbow Editing

I haven’t touched my mystery novel in a long time. I wrote the original first draft for NaNoWriMo in November 2013. Since then, it’s changed a lot. I submitted it to my writer’s group and we all mutually agreed that the main character should not have been the POV character.

I rewrote the whole thing.

In 2015, my goal was to have the full manuscript completed by the end of the year. That didn’t happen, so my new goal was the end of the year in 2016.

The last time I worked on the draft was the summer of 2016. I began my edits, got about 60 pages in, and stopped. My “edits” started to be solely searching for typos. I was reading the story, not editing the book. I got frustrated, not knowing where to start and how to continue, so I stopped with every intention of going back to it a few weeks later.

Then Camp NaNo July 2016 happened and I never went back to my mystery novel.

Now that it’s 2017, my new goal was, (surprise), to finish the manuscript by the end of the year. I have a new plan and a new schedule. I also did some research on editing and I learned a lot. So I think it will work this time.

No one said editing had to be boring. No one said it had to be a chore. It’s a lot of work and brainpower, yes, but I’ve found a way to make editing a little more fun and interesting for myself while staying organized and continue to pay attention.

Rainbow Editing | Editing Your Novel

If you’re easily distracted by shiny and pretty things, like me, then this may be a fun way to edit your manuscript.

When you think of editing, you think of having a red pen in hand, right? Me, too. When you think of writing, you think of blue or black ink, right? If you’re typing it on the computer, it’s black ink.

Editing is hard enough, but when I started editing my novel again this month I decided to use the same draft I was working on last summer so I could save a tree.

The first 10 pages or so are really marked up and then I lost steam. Up until page 60 or so, there are small red marks here and there, but that’s it.

I decided not to use red so I wouldn’t get the last edits and the current edits mixed up. Since I started, two of my pens had run out of ink so I ended up having four different colors on one page.

It’s pretty if I do say so myself.

That’s when I thought of rainbow editing. This is an actual method teachers use to get their students (mostly elementary and middle grade) to self-edit their essays. Each color represents something different: spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.

But why don’t I do that? I have various colored pens that I never use and it will help me stay organized in my thoughts as I write, edit, and rewrite. So, that’s just what I decided to do…

Red – general typos, spelling, grammar, etc.
Green – Plot changes
Light Green – Dialogue, description, pacing, tenses, etc.
Blue – Character development
Purple – Research, fact-check
Pink – Overall structure, switching sentences and paragraphs around, vocabulary, word replacement, etc.

It definitely looks a bit much, but if you make a “legend” and can remember which color represents what, it helps to zero in on one thing at a time.

I didn’t think of this idea until after I started editing this draft, but it will definitely be used in the future.

Do you rainbow edit or have a similar editing method? Let me know in the comments below!

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Understanding The 3 Major Types Of Editing

Did you know that there are different levels of editing? I bet you did, but do you understand them?

Editing is much more in depth than most people believe it is. Thus, making editing seem even more overwhelming than it really is.

It’s a lot to take in at first, but it’s actually not that bad. I think the most confusing part about it is that different types of editing have various names that all mean the same thing.

I myself get confused, so let’s talk about it.

Understanding The 3 Major Types of Editing

Developmental Editing | Structural Editing | Substantive Editing

This is one of the heavier forms of editing and definitely the most in-depth. With this form of editing, you’re looking at:

1. Overall plot (the big picture, goals of the story)
2. Character development
3. Pacing and tense (voice, tone, etc.)
4. Dialogue
5. Possibly rewriting entire paragraphs or chapters (add or remove information, reorganize scenes, revise sentence structure)

Ask yourself:

  • Does this flow properly?
  • Is there a clear opening, climax, and resolution?
  • Does the overall story make sense?

This type of editing will take the longest and be the most draining for you, but if done right, it’ll be worth it. It will completely reform and reimagine your manuscript.

Copy Editing | Line Editing | Stylistic Editing | Content Editing

While some people would consider copy editing to be separate from the rest I just listed, I’m clumping them together because they’re similar enough to each other.

This is kind of like a medium form of editing. When you copy edit, or line edit, you’re revising individual sentences. You’re looking for:

1. Revising the structure to let it flow better
2. Replacing words (weak words, repetitive words, etc.)
3. Making sure the sentence makes sense
4. Grammar, punctuation, etc.

Read each sentence out loud and ask yourself,

  • Does this sentence make sense? Is it awkward?
  • Are the language and vocabulary appropriate for the targeted audience?
  • Is this repetitive from another sentence before it? (If so, which sounds better and where should it be placed?)

You may go cross-eyed after a while, but it’ll narrow everything down for you.


This should be the final editing stage. It’s the lightest and, in my opinion, the easiest.

Proofreading is about finding those little mistakes that you didn’t catch before. Including, but not limited to:

  • General typos
  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Formatting
  • Capitalization
  • Tenses
  • Article and pronoun use

Most of this will be caught in the copy editing, but proofreading is a nice wrap up to finally put that shiny bow on your manuscript as you prepare it for the world.

Bonus: Fact Checking

Another kind of editing you may do, depending on your genre, is checking for facts and accuracy of your topic. This would most likely be done during the copy editing.

When writing anything that relates to something in real life, make sure:

  • The stats and facts are correct
  • the names are correct and spelled right
  • Statements are properly quoted

And more. Make sure you do your research from credible sources!

In conclusion…

Editing is a long process. It’s draining. It’s difficult. It’s annoying. It’s confusing. Still, it’s something that has to be done.

If you know what you’re doing and get into a good groove with it, your manuscript will shine.

How does editing treat you? Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments below.

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How To Find Your Editing Schedule

Time has a way of getting away from us. One of the biggest complaints from every writer is:

“I don’t have time to write!”

Or they can’t find the time or whatever other variation you can think of. The point is writers lack time when it comes to trying to build a writing career when they’re already juggling a full-time job, or school, or being a parent, or anything else going on in their life.

And if we have a hard time finding the time for writing… what about editing?

How To Find Your Editing Schedule

I don’t know about you, but editing is my least favorite part of the writing process. I write the first draft of a novel, set it aside for a while to take a break, and work on another one in the meantime. When the first draft of that second novel is done, it’s time to go back to the first novel, right? No.

I end up writing the first draft of the third novel with every intention of editing the other two novels.

But, you know, new ideas come out of nowhere. Writing 2,000 words a day sounds more productive than saying that I edited five pages. Also, writing is just easier than editing. There’s less thinking involved as you just tell yourself the story.

It doesn’t have to make sense, but it does to you because… well, you’re writing it. Why can’t everyone else just read your mind and be happy with the first draft, huh?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Editing is a much longer process than writing. You can’t really spout out gibberish and expect it to come together. Plus, you have to read carefully to make sure you don’t miss any crucial mistakes. Editing one page may take double the time it took to write that page.

When it comes to writing, sometimes you just have to carry a notebook and write a sentence or two down on your lunch break at work or at the mall while your friend is trying on various outfits. You can’t exactly bring your manuscript to the mall and sit on the floor in the dressing room and mark up your papers, though.

So, how do you find the time to edit?

You make it.

Easier said than done, I know, but hear me out.

If you’ve made it as far as completing the first draft of a novel, you must be pretty serious about writing, right? You must want to publish it somewhere, right? Whether you hunt for an agent, self-publish it, or post it on Wattpad or your blog, you’re going to do something with that manuscript.

And if you’re that serious about your novel, you will be able to make the time to edit the crap out of it.

Pick a dedicated time of day or a certain block of time during the day.

Do you have an hour to spare on most days? Or even a half hour? Take advantage of that. Put your phone on silent and get off the Internet. Just bring out the red pen and work during that amount of time. It may seem short, but it’ll chip away at that manuscript.

Or, if you’re usually not doing anything after dinner, edit at that time. After you wash those dishes, sit at the kitchen table and edit until your favorite night time TV show comes on. This may also help if it’s around the same time each night so that your mind will be prepared when the editing comes.

You don’t have to edit every day.

While you will certainly get more done faster if you edit seven days a week, I don’t recommend that. However, if you have the time and want to, edit six days a week at the most. Give yourself at least one day of rest.

Pick three of four days of the week to get editing done. It’ll pace you through your novel, you won’t burn out, and you won’t be rushing the edits.

Edit by chapter, not by time.

Everyone edits differently and everyone goes at their own pace. Depending on how long your chapters are (or whatever your writing style is), pledge to edit one chapter a day. Some days it may take you 20 minutes, other days it may take an hour.

On those short days, try to edit an extra chapter, if time allows.

Assign yourself editing tasks each day.

If you’re crunched for time, just look for certain things about your novel you know you need to fix. Did you flip back and forth between tenses? Give a quick read and change to present words to past words. Is the pace too fast or too slow? Mark those spots and brainstorm ideas on how to fix it.

In conclusion…

There are a lot of methods to finding the time to edit your novel. If it’s something you absolutely need to get done, you’ll find the time easily.

Just one thing to remember:

Editing is not a race.

It takes some authors years to complete their novels. If you’ve been working a certain manuscript for a while, don’t fret.

Just think of all the improvements you’ve made on it since you first started.

What’s your typical editing schedule? Let me know in the comments below!

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Goodbye, 2016!

It’s so weird to think that another year has come and gone. I accomplished a lot this past year, yet it’s all kind of a blur at the same time. I started taking author requests for book reviews, I started having guests on my blog, and I started a newsletter!

Let’s recap what happened this year…

Goodbye 2016


-I edited George Florence
-I edited Take Over
-Most popular post: January/February 2016 Writing Contests

-I wrote and researched George Florence some more
-I wrote some Short Story Sundays in bulk
-I started a new blog about video games, Double Jump with Kris
-Most popular post: February/March 2016 Writing Contests

-I edited George Florence some more
-I outlined The Lost Girl and prepped for Camp NaNo
-Most popular post: March/April 2016 Writing Contests

-It was Camp NaNo and I wrote The Lost Girl (I wrote about 50,000 words)
-Most popular post: World Building: Build a World You Love (Part Four) (a guest post written by Nthato)

-I went back to editing George Florence
-Most popular post: Work is Hard

-It was Mystery Month
-I edited George Florence for the first half of the month
-I edited The Lost Girl the second half of the month
-I attempted to do a 24-hour read-a-thon, which didn’t go as well as I had planned
-I outlined and prepped for Camp NaNo
-Most popular post: How To Plan a Crime When Writing a Mystery Novel

-I wrote 50,000 words of Hunter, the novel you guys voted for me to write for Camp NaNo
-I attempted to edit George Florence a little bit too, but I don’t think I did
-I read two books a week
-Most popular post: July/August 2016 Writing Contests

-I edited both George Florence and The Lost Girl
-I read two books a week
-Most popular post: 5 Techniques to Edit a Novel

-I finished writing The Lost Girl (I never finished the full story during Camp NaNo… and yes, I started editing before the story was over)
-Most popular post: 5 Quotes by Mark Twain

-I wrote The Lost Girl
-I wrote and edited two short stories for two contests
-I prepped for NaNo
-Most popular post: October/November 2016 Writing Contests

-I wrote 50,000 words in Short Story Sundays for 2017 for NaNo
-Most popular post: November/December 2016 Writing Contests

-I barely wrote, just prepped and planned for the new year with writing and blogging
-Most popular post: December/January 2016/2017 Writing Contests

I did a lot of editing this year… but George Florence is still not ready. I’ve been trying to figure out the series instead of looking at each individual novel. Sounds complicated, I know, but I have my reasons for doing it that way.

I’m sure 2017 will be great, if not better!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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On Editing: Asking a Friend to Critique Your Novel

Yesterday I talked about what you should do if a friend asks you to critique their novel.

But what should you do when you ask a friend to critique your novel?

You’re not the reader this time around, you’re the writer. There’s a lot more to prepare for your novel–and yourself–when you decide to share your world with others.

On Editing: Asking a Friend to Critique Your Novel

Are you ready to show your novel to others?

Writing comes with a lot of self-doubt. You ask yourself so many questions every day you sit down to write:

“Who would want to read my story?”
“Does this even make sense?”
“My writing is terrible, my characters are flat, and the plot is ridiculous. Why did I decide to do this?”

Before you think about giving your novel to friends, family, beta-readers, or editors, make sure you’re absolutely ready to reveal your work to them.

  • Have you self-edited the book yourself a few times?
  • Do you feel confident enough to share your work with others?
  • Do you think you’ve done all you can, but still know there are some weak points in the book and you need another opinion?

You can’t write a novel and send a first draft to beta-readers and expect them to “fix it” for you. Remember, this is your story. You wrote it, you created it, final decisions are up to you.

Know your story inside and out.

If you’re looking for suggestions and you’re not sending your novel out to beta-readers or editors yet, then take this one with a grain of salt.

But, you should know your story inside and out. Someone may say, “This part doesn’t make sense.” Your answer probably shouldn’t be, “Oh, yeah. Well, I didn’t know where that part was going so that’s why I threw the ninja in. No one saw it coming. Clever, right?”

Of course, as writers our outlines change or we write blind. Fellow writers will understand that kind of comment and help you come up with a solution and different scenarios. But a non-writer, a potential reader, may not get it.

When giving your novel out for feedback, you should have a good grip on the plot, characters, and overall picture of the story. Questions will be asked and you should have a good answer.

When giving your novel to others to read and critique, have certain areas you would like them to look at. Is the main character likeable? Is there a certain scene you’re unsure about? Feel free to give them a list of critique questions to answer.

Who should you ask to read your story?

Anyone is a potential reader and there are a number of people you could ask to give you feedback on your novel.

  • Family members (writers or non-writers)
  • Friends (writers or non-writers)
  • Friends from your writer’s group
  • Blogger friends
  • Anyone else you can think of

No matter who you ask, though, their feedback will come with a certain amount of “baggage,” if you will.

Friends and family may hold back a bit since they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They’ll be supportive by praising you and telling you what they think you want to hear. It’ll definitely make you feel good, though.

Beta-readers, friends from your writer’s group, or anyone who writes will tell you like it is. In a nice way, of course, but you’ll have to be prepared for praise as well as some negative comments.

Remember, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Any feedback you receive, especially if it’s negative, is not said to hurt your feelings. Always remember that you have great ideas, you have a unique writing style, and you work very hard to accomplish your goals and dreams.

J.K. Rowling is rich and famous, but there are still people in the world who don’t like Harry Potter. Your book will be no different.

Your book may not be someone’s cup of coffee, but you will be someone’s favorite author one day.

How do you prepare your novel to be read by others? What experiences have you had giving your novel to others? Let me know in the comments below!

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