J.A. Stinger

Words Can Inspire The World

BLANK PAGE TO FINAL DRAFT: Week 7: Edit the First Chapters of Your Novel!

Written by: Bryn Donovan
Source: http://www.bryndonovan.com/2016/02/15/edit-the-first-chapters-of-your-novel

Hey friends! Welcome back to Blank Page to Final Draft, a schedule for writing and editing a complete novel in just one year. If you’ve been following along, you might have five chapters done by now.

And if you don’t have that much, well… I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve built in catch-up times later in this schedule. So if you’re behind, don’t give up. Just keep writing!

This week, you just can edit whatever you’ve got so far.

Some people don’t believe in editing at all during a first draft. I think it’s a good idea to stop once, somewhere around chapter three to chapter five, to make sure that things are more or less making sense so far. This keeps the book on track and can prevent a lot more rewriting in the end.

You don’t have to get everything perfect yet. I suggest focusing on only these three things:

1. Do the first five pages make the reader care about what will happen to an important character?

As I’ve said before, I think this is the best thing the beginning of a story can accomplish. If this isn’t happening, you may have stuff at the beginning that you need to cut.

2.  Can the reader basically tell what is happening in the story? 

In other words, is the time and place of the story clear? Can they tell who’s talking, and what the characters are doing? Can they see it in their heads?

3. Are the motivations of your point-of-view characters clear?

Can the reader understand why they do everything they do so far in the story? This can be a matter of characterization, or it can be a issue of plotting. For instance, if there’s another, more reasonable solution to a problem, you may have to change things so that the other solution isn’t an option.

Naturally it’s okay if your POV character, and the reader, find another character’s words or actions baffling.

That’s all.

You can make other edits if you like, of course, but you don’t have to. At the beginning of next week, you’ll give your quickly edited pages to beta readers for feedback, with some very specific instructions.

No matter where you’re at in your project, give yourself credit for the work that you have accomplished! Happy editing!