So you wake up from your NaNoWriMo binge covered in a sheen of sweat and flush from success—or not—and rocking a dull headache that may or may not have something to do with all the greasy fast food you relied on for quick sustenance last month.
What you need, writer, is water to drink and a Tylenol to take and a maybe nap. But after that, you need a serious roundup of editing resources. Because NaNoWriMo, bless its heart, is all about writing crap.
It’s okay. You can say it. Your NaNo novel looks like the proverbial infinity of monkeys hammered away at the keyboard and left behind, not Hamlet, but a bucket o’ plot holes and superfluous characters. And that’s if you did NaNo right.
You wrote fast. You wrote hard. You gave yourself to freewheeling creativity and harkened not to the critical editor! (Good job!) But now it’s time to face the edit.
Don’t worry, writer. I’m here for you. And so are the bajillion other NaNoites waking up from their bleary-eyed word binge for the realities of the unofficial National Editing Month that is December.
Whether you reached that elusive 50k words or not—hell, whether you participated in NaNo or not—this editing round up is your creativity hangover cure.
Agents the world over dread their inboxes every December 1st since NaNo began because starry-eyed first-drafters have dumped their meandering, half-finished novels there without so much as a read through.
You already know better than to be one of those writers. So let’s just give a nod to our collective terrors and open that shit storm with a ton of editing help in hand.
Because you shouldn’t have to slog through it alone. You should have your hand held by writers who’ve been there. So grab a hot cup of tea (or cocoa, anyone?) and settle in with these amazing editing resources for writers, broken into two easy steps.
Here we go.
Phase One: Substantive Editing
Substantive editing is one of the best parts of writing because it’s in this phase that you start to see your story take on its final shape. It’s not a blank page, so the scary part is done (thanks NaNoWriMo!). It’s here that you’ll restructure, layer, and find those connective threads that’ll cinch your story into a cohesive narrative. Here are a few resources to help.
Restructure your plot with these five plot tools from the How Writers Write Fiction course through University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop | link
Plug your story events into the classic Hero’s Journey outline at Better Novel Project, and watch your novel come to life | link
Layer in this list of fiction virtues that bestselling fantasy novelist and story doctor, David Farland, covers here | link
Get a backstage look at how prolific author, Elizabeth Spann Craig, powers through her editing process | link
Answer these big picture editing questions from The Creative Penn to get your story on track from the start | link
Save time with this top-down editing approach that’s sure to put the ease back into revision | link
Get into the editing mindset with these three DON’Ts from Blots and Plots | link
Identify and obliterate plot holes with this checklist from She’s Novel | link
Dial down the stress with a one-thing-at-a-time editing approach from KM Weiland that will make editing seem almost easy | link
Tighten your scenes for a page-turning pace with Jami Gold | link
Master realistic dialogue in 7 tips + examples from bestsellers with Better Novel Project | link
Write masterful chapter endings that keep readers turning the page from Ann R Allen | link
Phase Two: Copyediting
Ahhh, here comes the easy part. You’ve put your novel through the paces with the heavy-hitting revision tips in phase one above. Now your characters live and breathe. Your plot is tight. Your settings immerse. Your dialogue sparkles. So it’s time to cover grammar, style, and spelling. This is editing at the sentence level, which means you’re in the homestretch, writer!
This quick-edit tool from Sasha Black packs the time-saving power of a neutron bomb | link
Pull out your rainbow highlighter collection for this colorful and multi-pronged editing approach that’s sure to cover all the sentence-level basics (from The Pink Bookworm) | link
Scan your WIP for these clutter words that kill the power in your prose (from Ink and Quills) | link
Master these six editing tips from Huffington Post and never look like an amateur writer again | link
Cut the fluff in your fiction with this hard-hitting list of editing resources that’s sure to electrify your wordsmithery | link
Deepen the setting and sensory details in your novel and leave your readers begging for more with this how-to from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University | link
Gain some needed distance when your mind goes numb and you can’t see your story through the words | link
Cut these 297 words from your WIP for a leaner, sparkling novel (from Jon Morrow) | link
Catch these red flags from The Write Life that’ll tell you when it’s time to stop editing | link
Find out when it’s time to enlist editing help with these tips from Jeff Goins | link
Commiserate with other writers who understand the 5 stages of editing grief you’re going through (from Chuck Wendig) | link
And proofreader marks from Writer’s Digest (just for fun) | link
Whew, that’s one hell of a list! Work through this and you’ll be amazed at the progress you make as a writer and wordsmitherer. (Yeah, that’s a word. Didn’t you know?) Good luck!
Know any great editing resources I missed? Share them in the comments.
Remember this site and get writing tips like these in your inbox. Just slap your favorite email below.