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 | RachelPoli.com

Plot

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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