One pitfall of the entire writing process is the constant need to revise and edit. It's ever present, writers are obsessed with perfection. The first thing to do is sit down, take a deep breath, and repeat this over and over: "Imperfection is perfection."

Science says that mathematically Elizabeth Hurley is the most attractive woman in the world. Is she perfect? No, but she is imperfect perfection.


When you're done you'll understand completely. But for now think of it this way: there is no such thing as a perfect novel. And many of the ways you think you screwed up and fell short of perfection are the moments in the story your voice is strongest.

Alas, you have one more edit to do. Your critiques are back and you've edited for content. THAT PROCESS IS DONE. I mean it, do NOT fuck with your content. It's perfect you fool, or is until (if you go with a publisher on the traditional route) your agent or editor suggests changes. Until then it's fine!

It feels like this, but just take the damn chill pill and get down to business

Now is the time for the finite editing. It's a tow step process: line by line and a general sweep.

Now, you were a good author and reviewed grammar and punctuation rules, right? You read up on transient verbs and passive tense, and you're a human Ginsu knife. Well, if not, you should be! That was the point of 2-C. So you're going take your knowledge and do a line-by-line read through. Note that even if you used a paid editor you still need to do this. editors are humans and no human is perfect.

Set a daily goal of say 50 pages, or whatever your schedule allows. Read that amount each day and fix any and all errors you find. The most common will be auto-correct errors where a wrong word is put it, or a simple error (e.g. "though" where you meant "thought"). You're looking for errors spellcheck can't find. In this edit the only time you can make a large change is when a sentence just doesn't work due to a grammar error, so you may have to delete it and re-write it, or break it into two. Watch the urge to read a scene and want to change it. No, it's too late. Content editing is over, copy editing has begun.

This is how a copy editor works. If you're self-publishing you're your own copy editor, and if you're going through a traditional path you don't want to bog the copy editor down. Plus, no customer, agent, or publisher will buy a book riddled with errors.

Be thorough. Be anxious. Be a hunter. Go slowly, this stage is the last of your editing. when you're done, your manuscript is done, finito, ended! If you are easily distracted by the computer, print it out and edit with a pen. Don't try to do this on days when you're too stressed or upset by life. This is a careful process and you must treat it with respect. 

Now one thing to be wary of: remember that the narration must have perfect grammar, but dialogue doesn't. How many people do you talk to in a day that know when to use "whom" over "who" or could properly split an infinitive? Very few, it's just not how we talk. So let improper grammar sit in dialogue as long as it's consistently through the character's dialogue. These little errors can help differentiate each character's speech. 

When you're done you need to take a break. Go write something, or you'll start having dreams about editing which don't help. Take a couple days, watch some movies, write something, play video games, relax. 

He's right, go unplug and take a break, that's useful in itself

When you come back you will do your final real true ultimate edit. This is done with spell check. You should be using MS Word (or something like OpenOffice that can save in a *.doc format and has the same features, but don't cheap out here. MS Word is what the industry uses, you should too). Aim to do a large amount per day, but always in three days or more. I usually devote five to any book, spell checking 1/5 per day. Why? Because the process can be hypnotizing and if you get too zoned out you may skip and error you shouldn't.

So schedule out a set amount to do each day, and I recommend doing this over three to five days. When that is done YOU ARE DONE. The writing and editing process is over, and next is the marketing process.

Luckily you won't have to go that far to sell your book or yourself. Almost, but not quite

Remember to give yourself a reward for finishing this. Spoil yourself some way, you earned it. You have just done what a large percentage of people who want to write a book couldn't do: you finished and edited the damn thing. Now, as we have nearly concluded Writing 103 you are now a novelist with a finished product. Next up we'll start the process of marketing you're semi-finished product. Good luck!