This is so true it has almost become a cliché.
I submitted a novel for consideration to a publisher yesterday. On the online form I had to say whether it had been edited. Unashamedly I picked “yes” from the drop down list. I’ve been through it at least eighteen times. And I always check each section three times as I write. I always think that what you don’t spot in three readings at one sitting you’re not going to spot until you get some distance from the work.
It can seem daunting that when you’ve done all of this work an editor will still find something else to comment on. But the cleaner the text, the more effective the editor’s input will be and the more the text will shine afterwards.
I always concentrate on one aspect of the work each time I edit, though I will pick up other matters as well as I go through on every check.
Here is my checklist for editing my YA books:
1. Is the overall structure sound? - hook, inciting incident, increasing complexities, crisis, climax –
2. Is the resolution satisfying?
3. Overall time scale
4. Check format and length against target market / reader
1) Mixed genre
2) Emotional closeness
3) Leaving reader to decide
4) Pushing boundaries
5) Fast paced / high stakes
6) Characters resemble young adults
5. Characters. Are they consistent? Do they develop? Do you know everything about them that you should?
6. Is it convincing? Is there cause and effect?
7. Is there conflict and tension? Are there peaks and troughs?
8. Does the pace vary?
1. It should not be too natural
2. It should only say important things
3. It should differentiate characters' voices
4. When angry, becomes childish
5. Should take 2/3 of popular book
6. Should convey mood, character and reaction
7. Every speech should give information
10. Detail and description should be slipped in small chunks.
11. Point of View – is it consistent and if it “zooms” does it do so in a reasonable way?
12. Show, don’t tell.
13. Kill off your darlings.
14. Get rid of clichés
15. Overall flow (read out loud)
16. Copy edit