When it comes to editing your book, there’s more than one approach to the revision process. Some writers work through their manuscript from beginning to end, in chronological order. Others might work backward, one chapter at a time. Another efficient way to conduct revisions is by layering your edits.

Let’s consider what layering your edits might look like.

How to Determine Your Editing Layers 

When you work with a developmental editor, you’ll often get an editorial letter and/or detailed notes at the end of the developmental process. These notes will likely detail several areas throughout your story that need extra attention. That’s going to look different for every writer, but some of these issues could include:

  • Story threads that need to be present throughout the manuscript
  • Character interactions that need to be more consistent
  • Hints or foreshadowing you need to add
  • Actions, responses, and interactions that should be more in-character
  • Plot points that need to be tightened 

When it’s time to start revising, use your editor’s notes to make a master list of issues you need to address in your manuscript. Then, use it as a map that guides you through each layer of the revision process.

Layering Edits Allows You to Focus on One Story Thread at a Time

Correcting one story thread at a time is an effective way to move through your editorial process quickly. If you’re working through revisions after your developmental edit, it’s critical that you consider layering edits to maintain consistency throughout the process.

What I mean by consistency is that if you’re threading a particular theme through the story, you want to follow that through from beginning to end. Layering can help you focus on one thread at a time so you don’t get lost in other details along the way.

Layering Edits Can Prevent Unnecessary Rewrites

Just like getting lost in details, it’s a little too easy to get caught up in unnecessary rewrites (guilty…very guilty). If you layer your revision process and make a clear plan for the parts of your novel you plan to edit, it might help keep you on track to meet your deadlines.

This method is particularly useful if you’re writing long books with vast worlds. Making a seemingly small adjustment in one chapter could result in many, bigger changes as you go along. If you have a map to guide the process, you might be able to avoid a major detour.

Layering Edits Helps You Stay Focused on the Big Picture

As you move through revisions, you want to keep your focus on the big picture: completing your novel. It’s easy to get tangled in a web of extensive rewrites when you’re really supposed to be refining your existing story, so use your list of edit layers to keep yourself on track. 

Most importantly, remember that there are no hard and fast rules for how to approach the editing process. The most important thing is to finish your book.

If you need to talk through how to layer your edits, Allie and Jo can help. Get in touch with us here.

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