I love writing books. I really do. As most of you know, I’m a true seat of the pants writer. I start with a vague story idea. I have a basic character sketch, a setting, and have a general, “This book is about ________.” I’ll talk more about that next week, but suffice to say, my books are very rough when they are finished.

Some people LOVE editing. I, sad to say, am not one of them. I love the exhilaration of creation… but endure the task of editing. But I do so because I want my book to be the best I can present to both agents, editors, and hopefully someday, readers.

So how do we delve into the task that is the Second Draft?

Really, most second drafts should be more aptly named “rewriting” rather than “editing” This is when we go through and fix our writing, beef up our subplots, ensure flow and rhythm, make sure everything is plausible and that there is sufficient motivation. Whole chapters are deleted in this phase, and at times, whole chapters are added. This isn’t just spelling changes, my friends.

You all had such GREAT suggestions last week, and what I took from it all was this very simple concept:

We are all different!

I know, I know, imagine that! We all have our own needs, ideologies, and convictions when it comes to the rewrite process.

A few ideas/suggestions/points to remember:

Get away from it all: Several of you mentioned to set aside your book for a period of time, and I TOTALLY agree. Personally, two weeks is a good amount of time for me. I still *care* about my characters, and am anxious to get back to them. But I think more than a month would be too much for me. I need to distance myself enough to see it objectively, but not too much that it’s an “old” project that I’m not invested in.

Set a daily goal and stick to it: In our local writer’s group, we were talking about this subject on Saturday. Kaye noted a helpful piece of advice that I’ll borrow from her because it was very appropriate, and I’ve heard it in multiple places. Make sure you have dedicated rewriting time. When you write a book, many times it’s in interrupted chunks, which makes for choppy plot lines, or makes you forget to make a point that needs made, or you make a point 20 times because you didn’t recall the last 19 times you said it. In your rewrites are choppy too, it’ll make it more difficult to catch these things and monitor the flow of the story.

So make yourself a goal and set aside chunks of time consistently to do your rewrite.

Print out a hard copy: Another idea I hear suggested is to print off a hard copy of your novel to mark you rewrites on. I agree with this, but personally I don’t do that in the rewrite stage. For me, that’s my third draft, in the “editing” stage. I catch more errors in hard copy, but I also do a LOT of rewriting in second draft, and doing that on paper invokes a cringe response from me. I use the print-out draft for changing passive to active voice, to catch repeated words, stupid spelling errors that spell-check doesn’t recognize (like were and where.)

To each his own: Remember, this is all to be put into perspective by the needs of the author. Our minds are fickle, and each of us needs different tricks to mold our books into the best we product we can deliver.


How long does it usually take you to complete edits on your book? If you haven’t… how long do you think you should give yourself to complete this task?



  1. I am still editing my first baby. It has been a very hard book to write (it is a memoir) and I feel like I have had to grow as a writer to actually write it. I will know when I am done. There is no time limit for me. I'll know when I reach the finish. When all my beta readers are saying there is nothing else to fix and it comes back from the manuscript evaluator that I know with the comment, 'this book is ready for submission,' I'll know I am ready. Until then I am happy to editing this one and write the next.

  2. I'm with you, Krista. I too do not like editing. I have found reading my work aloud for line-editing to be a great exercise. I catch a LOT of little gaffes that way. Take care!

  3. Oh, boy. It does sound like bliss. Right.

    My rewrites are taking me approximately 6 weeks, but only because I'm underdeadline for one. But also because I need to get back to working on my next book.

  4. You may step back in shock, but I give myself more time to edit than to write a book. I'm giving myself up to 4+ months to hack through the one I finished yesterday. And I can only stay away for a week, but I'll be on vacation next week so I'll come back to it slowly. But I'll have it printed and with me for the long car ride to FL.
    ~ Wendy

  5. I have to let the work cool at least over two weeks. A month is better. Then I dive in. Unfortunatley other ideas come crashing in and before I know it, I'm writing another WIP in addition to edits. I'm restless. 😉

  6. I have to work on hard copies. Computers make my eyes spin. I edit/revise (everything but rewriting whole chapters) on paper, then type it in–and rewrite big chunks at that point. Right now I'm on the 3rd go around with a manuscript. I think it's getting there too, so that's exciting!!!

    Happy editing!

  7. How long does it take? Depends on if I'm trying to get it done (kinda like eating the brussel sprouts first) or dreading it and finding all kinds of excuses to put it off. LOL

    Seriously, the first round goes faster because I'm still excited about the characters. But, when my CPs came back with a "need to change the ending" the pace slowed down. A lot. I'd like to say that I jumped back into it but God doesn't like it when I lie. 😉

    My personal goal is now to get this one done by the end of the year. And move on. Finally.

  8. Thank you!
    Blessings, andrea

  9. I do not like setting my book aside after I write it so I can let it "cool" and I do not like editing all that much. I definitely do not like revising. But–I know it's all still necessary. I think I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me and that's fine. I typically spend an equal amount of time editing as I do writing the book unless I wrote the book very quickly. Then I try to really make sure the story flows, makes sense and can really support itself before I do too much editing.

  10. Right now, the first round of edits is taking me about a week. Then let it rest, and a couple-three days for a final polish before sending it in. Then there are three more rounds of edits after the publisher has them. All told, I probably spend about 120 hrs on rewrites?

    How cool, my word verification is Novel. 🙂

  11. Well, I've been editing for a year now.

  12. I'd cringe at the amount of "wasted" paper and ink initially. If it helps get to a final result that leaves you walking away feeling excited, it's worth it.

  13. Hi Krista –

    We are truly kindred spirits. While I admire those who can outline and plot, I start to hyperventilate thinking about it.

    Our feelings about editing are also similar. I LOVE doing first drafts.

    After I finish this initial draft, I'm going back to Book 1 for more editing. I've been working on it for four years because it represents my learning curve.

    I'm getting the feeling I should write all three books and then edit them. I seem to get more ideas as I go through the process.

    Susan 🙂

  14. nice post friend!!!!!

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    Culture of INdonesia


  15. Lately, my least favorite draft is the one I'm working on :O

    I do agree with you that 2nd drafts should be called rewriting instead of editing. That's where all my big changes occur, and where I finally decide what I really want my characters names to be. HAHA, I never get that right on the first round.

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