Editing Tip #14: Why You Should Edit Your Novel More Than Once

Editing Tip 14 edit your novel more than once.png

Sometimes, after I finish writing my draft, the last thing I want to do is edit. I’ve already spent ages writing it and know the story inside and out. I certainly don’t want to read through it two, five, or ten times.

However, I remind myself that editing one time is simply not enough. Even after the second draft, my novel is still a mess. Plot points still need to be fleshed out, characters aren’t jumping off the page, and I’m still finding spelling errors.

Why Edit Your Novel More Than Once?

1. You won’t catch everything the first time.

No matter how carefully you analyze every single word of your novel, you will still find missing words, comma slices, and unnecessary dialogue. It’s important to recognize this and understand that this doesn’t make you a bad writer or editor. We’re not perfect, so we will miss things.

That just makes multiple editing passes so valuable. When you edit more than once, you give yourself the chance to catch things that you didn’t on the first or second read through.

2. You can get overwhelmed.

Trying to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors while also looking for plot holes, stale dialogue, inconsistencies, and more all at the same time is overwhelming. It’s just not practical to try to look for everything at the same time. It’s a brain overload.

When you make multiple editing passes, you can focus on different aspects of your story with each pass. For example, your first editing pass could focus only on plot—plot holes, slow pacing, confusing references to time, etc. The second pass could focus on characters, the third on setting, and the fourth on those grammar essentials.

This will make editing far less daunting and far more manageable. It’s easier to dive into something when you have a plan and know you can work at it one step at a time.

And to make it even easier for you, I’ve already done the heavy lifting and creating an editing plan for you in my Self-Editing Checklist. This allows you to not only focus on specific things with each pass but also keep track of what you’ve already edited.

Action Steps

  1. Download the free Self-Editing Checklist and use it as a guide for what to edit during each pass.

  2. If you want to learn more about editing in stages, read this article.

  3. Tackle a few specific editorial items with each editing pass so that you catch more and don’t get overwhelmed.

What helps you focus and get through your one-millionth read-through (because that’ what it feels like)?