Having collected and filtered through my alpha readers’ feedback and stayed away from the story awhile, right now I'm doing a massive edit of The Ugly Stepsister. Based on the editing experiences with my first four books, plus reading loads of books on editing, I’ve decided on a number of methods that will hopefully streamline this editing thing.
First, I printed out the entire story so I could have a hard copy to work with. I usually try to stay away from printing to save paper, but for this huge content edit, reading on A4-sized paper is much easier to circle large blocks of text and jot down what I should do with it.
Second, I made a pack of plot cards, using the method Holly Lisle introduced in her book, Create a Plot Clinic. Plot cards are easy to shuffle around, and Holly’s method allows me to estimate and prioritize how much editing each scene needs.
Third, I created a beat sheet using Roz Morris’ book, Nail Your Novel. This neat method of condensing the entire story in a few pages allows me to see the entire plot at one glance.
Four, the actual editing. I start with the big stuff—scenes that have to be tossed away, or new scenes that have to be completely written from scratch. This is the stage I am on right now. I admit it's kind of heartbreaking to throw out hundreds and hundreds of words, but I’m sure that once I reread the story, I won't miss them. It's all part of the process.
Five, once I've taken care of the big stuff, I’ll work on the characters. I’ll isolate and categorize scenes of Kat/prince, Kat/Lady Bradshaw/Bianca, Kat/Krev, and so on. This should allow me to keep track of the relationship between characters, and make sure it develops naturally and maintains consistency. I introduced a few characters about three quarters in the story, so I’ll go back and do some foreshadowing, so those characters won’t seem they just appeared out of nowhere.
Six, the small stuff. This includes researching the settings so my descriptions won’t seem too sparse, making sure the details are consistent (I discovered Kat’s best friend was called Betty in the beginning, but somehow she became Tara in the end), polishing up the dialogue (since the story is set in pseudo-Victorian world, I need to make the characters sound…less modern. For example, I’ll replace "like" with "such".), do more showing than telling. It's still more natural for me (or maybe I’m just lazy, haha) to tell than show *sigh* even though multiple editors have told me to work on it.
Seven, fix the spelling and grammar. Since I'm going to send the book to more beta readers after I finish this round of editing, I won't dwell too much on spelling/grammar. However, having switched from third person past tense to 1st person present tense, there are many instances in the text where I should have written in present tense. Besides, a cleaner manuscript will help the reader focus on the story, rather than technical details.
Wow, having written out the whole plan, it sounds like a pretty daunting task. But honestly, I am enjoying the editing so far. It’s super satisfying to take a rough draft and make it nice and sparkly. Maybe at some point I’ll get tired (it happened three quarters in while writing the first draft) and shall have to depend on sheer force to power through. Or maybe not J