Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Self-Editing Questions for a List-Loving Novelist

Happy Tuesday to you! I (Laurie) am in the thick of second-round edits on my third manuscript, an inspirational contemporary romanceand it's been a while since I've done this for my own work.

Today I'm giving you an over-the-shoulder peek at my self-editing process with the checklist for my project. This is the step after I finish the first draft and do an initial read-through/first edit, sometimes fixing issues as I see them but mostly making lots of notes along the way.

For our first section, these are the questions I typically ask myself about each scene's setting:

My first drafts tend to be a bit on the *telling* side, so I have to be intentional about showing the setting so the reader can be more involved in the scene. And I also have to make sure my characters don't levitate from place to place or else my critique partner will leave a snarky note for me in the margins ;)

On to plot, structure, and style questions:

I know there are probably lots I've left out on this list, but these are the main pitfalls I've found in my own first drafts. Feel free to point out any glaring oversights in the comments. {Yes, I am giving you permission to edit me!}

This section is unique to my story, but they are all notes I made throughout the manuscript to fix in the next round of edits. Trust me. There were lots more I fixed during my first edit/read-through. But to give you some context for what I'm dealing with, since my heroine has more of a high-maintenance personality and lots of flaws, I have to find a balance between maintaining the integrity of her personality and making sure readers love her as much as I do and find her relatable/sympathetic enough to root for her happy ending. There are also plot issues I found that can be strengthened earlier in the story to create more of an impact.

And that's it! After I do this round of edits, I try to do another read-through before it goes off to critique partners. If I were self-publishing, this is where I would send it off to a professional editor. I hope seeing my special, list-loving way has been helpful for you.

If you have any questions about my process, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'd love to hear about your process or anything glaring I left out!

Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is passionate about intentional living, all things color-coded, and stories of grace in the beautiful mess. Previously a full-time book publicist, she owns a freelance copywriting, editing, and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She's a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a two-time Genesis Award winner, and the runner-up in the 2015 Lone Star Contest's Inspirational category. 
Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.

You can connect with Laurie here:
Twitter - @LaurieTomlinson


Teresa Tysinger said...

Laurie, I'm so impressed with how intentional you are with your edits. I've got a lot to learn from you! I'm curious, how do you work through these questions logistically? Do you simply keep them in mind as you read? Do you have them on paper somewhere and make notes as you go? How long does this step of the process take you?

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Teresa - I read through them at the beginning of each scene--or maybe each editing session, depending on how focused I am that day :) Whether or not the answers end up on paper also depends on how focused I am. I have a feeling this round of edits will involve lots of pretty colors scratched into my paper.

Laura C. Brandenburg said...

These are SO good, Laurie! Thanks for sharing your process. I'm definitely a list-loving novelist. ;-)

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Super great, Laur!!!!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Laura - Yet another reason we are friends :)

@Amy - Thanks, darling! <3

Savanna Kaiser said...

This is great, Laurie. I'm in the middle of edits myself and will be using this list. Thank you! :)