How To Edit A Novella In Three Days

Novella edits? Don't panic!

Novella edits? Don’t panic!

Over the weekend, I received my edits to Pawn Takes Rook, awesome right? Well here’s the thing, I had to turn them in by Wednesday. I was booked solid with the second week of college. That only left Friday through Sunday. That’s right. I had three days to edit a novella.

Here’s how I did it:

Step #1

Panic. Run around the house. Freak out some more. Scream and get it all out of your system.

Step #2

Try to do all of it at once. Meaning grammar edits, content edits, adding in new material, the whole bit. Get to page 6, completely fry your brain, and go to bed.

Step #3

Wake up on Day 2 realizing you need to seriously work smarter and not harder. And lo you learn from one of your buddies that the way to go is in passes. Bless every red hair on Cate Ashwood’s noggin. I wouldn’t know what to do without her.

Which leads us to:

The Revised Way To Edit:

Step #1:

Plant your ass in your chair and read every single one of your Editor’s comments. Make notes on a pad of paper about content edits specifically. It helps to mark down page numbers to keep things straight.

Step #2:

Go through the file and accept or decline the grammar edits one by one. Instead of right clicking on every individual comma, use the Track Changes tool bar with clicking one single button to accept and move on to the next. Very handy, and saves a ton of time. For me? I worked on it from 7 am to 1 pm and finished all the grammar edits. It should be noted in this step you should highlight in a color that sticks out to you where the content edits go. This is for small things like rewording sentences, and big things like altering scenes. Right now, you should be focused on punctuation and grammar.

Step #3:

Take a break. Trust me on this. I did three things: Attended Chris T. Kat’s Facebook Chat on the Dreamspinner Page. Then German II homework. You’d be impressed how much German can be immensely refreshing for your brain. And finally Netflixed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog because I had never seen it before. (I know. I know.) Proceeded not to get the ending. Had it explained to me. Finally got it. Life was grand again.

Step #4:

By this time, it was around 6:30pm. I settled in for the content edits. For my content edits this included things like small rewording of sentences, adding in a couple details, to complete scene alterations. The only scene I had to alter at my editor’s request was actually the ending. She wanted it to go one way, I wanted to maintain the way it went because the third book in the Pawn Takes Rook series wouldn’t make any sense otherwise. I fleshed out the ending to affirm my point, left a comment explaining my decision. The actually bulk of the content edits came from my own decision to add layers to the story and make it less superficial.

Overall, expanded a 18k story to 20.5k. Finished my edits at 2:36 am.

Step #5:

Now we are at Day 3. Woke up feeling like a bus hit me. Staggered around. Went back to bed until noon. Got up, sat down, did a final read-though of Pawn Takes Rook. Tweaked a few things like words accidentally being merged and a couple errant punctuation marks. Welled with a bit of pride that holy crap this book is pretty freaking good now. Handed sent it back to my editor. Patted self on back.

Step #6:

Utterly panicked once again that I handed it into my editor. Suddenly, everything felt all too real. Like the book was now morphing into a really real book that other people are going to read. Watched The Blind Banker episode of BBC’s Sherlock as a reward. Because I likewise haven’t seen it yet. (I know. I know.) Went to bed. Proceeded to think about my edits all night in-between actually sleeping.

Step #7:

Real life continues anew. And if you kept track? Even if I edited the book in three days? I actually did it in a day.

Hard. Core.

I get to rinse, later, and repeat for second edits now. I’m way ahead of myself on panicking.

Originally published at Lex Chase. You can comment here or there.

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