Writing Wednesdays Guest Post: Olivia Levez - All about editing

YA author Olivia Levez shares her advice on how to edit your novel in this guest post.

The second instalment in a spectacular month of Writing Wednesday posts by guest authors is all about editing your book, on behalf of Olivia Levez.

Find Olivia on TwitterFacebook, and Blogspot.

Keep an eye out for Olivia’s debut YA novel, due to be published in 2016.

So you’ve finished your first draft of that book idea that’s been nagging away at you forever, and you want to post on Wattpad, or maybe you’ve even got a book deal and your editor, well, wants you to edit.

What is editing and how do you go about it?

Easy. Just think of it as renovating a house.

Step 1

Smash down the walls.

That’s it: dismantle all the different sections of your book and put in separate labelled files. I separated my YA novel into desert island front story, London back story, “teacher” back story and “redemption plot”. One of the main structural changes was that my editor wanted me to develop the “teacher” back story (which was almost non-existent) so rather than getting confused trying to weave in all the pieces into my polished manuscript (that I was scared to touch, it was so clean and shiny), I took the whole thing apart and took a deep breath.


Step 2

One room at a time.

Think of each section as a room in a house. You’ll need a floor-plan in order to extend and improve. So make one. Plot out the key events on a chart. Use colour-fill to show the “big scenes”. Make sure you’re happy with the order.

Then use your floor-plan/plot chart to write those scenes. Of course, most of it is a copy and paste job, but there’ll be scenes which are shiny and new and exciting. Just keep going until each section/room is written/built.

And don’t worry if the writing’s a bit rubbish.

It will be rough as old plaster at this stage. I mean, whoever heard of plastering or decorating until the walls are built, right?

Step 3


You’ve ended up with lots of half-built walls. There are rooms everywhere. Scattered bricks. Piles of cement. But no house.

Because you smashed that down, remember?

So now you’ve got to cement it all together *getting tired of this house metaphor*.

At this stage you are allowed to panic.

Go for a walk. Drink tea. Don’t think about all those bricks.

Remember the golden rule:

It is allowed to be a bit (quite a lot) rubbish at this stage.

Now that you’ve calmed down, set about putting it all together. Start at chapter one and just copy and paste in all those scenes. You can play around with the front and back story, decide where those extra scenes should go, change your mind as often as you wish. Just get to the end.

You should now be the proud owner of a fully built house. Strong and sturdy but with all the breeze-blocks showing and horrible to live in. You could live there, but you’d definitely be embarrassed to show people round.

Time to get plastering.

Step 4

Read through slowly and smooth over those joins. Hide the seams where front and back story were shoved together. Fill in the cracks. Smooth and polish those words. Jettison the adverbs; lose unnecessary repetition.

Smooth and polish. This should feel most satisfying. You’ve done all the hard work and can see your book/house coming together.

Step 5

Sweep up after yourself.

You can get friends to help you with this one. Any loose ends? Any bits of rubbish left lying around? Grab a broom and tidy up.

You’ll feel much better for it.

And that’s your job done. After all, as a writer you are only the builder. The interior and exterior design are up to your publisher.

Now for marketing and sales.

But that’s a whole new story.

- Another great big thanks, to Olivia for her brilliant post! For more from her, be sure to follow Olivia on Blogspot.

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