Every writer sets out to write their novel, and thinks once you’ve finished writing it, it’s done. There’s even a famous scene in a movie about a writer’s tradition when he finishes a book, his one cigarette, his bottle of wine.

Actually, about all you get is a smile, self satisfaction, and some relief. “It’s done. I spend six weeks writing this and it’s done.”

On to the next one!

But know that once book two is finished in six more weeks, you now have to edit book one.

It’s going to take several passes.

The line by line revision doesn’t happen at first. It happens later. What are you looking at first?

Structure.

Do you have a character arc?

Is there suspense and conflict in every scene?

Can I cut this scene out? Will the story be nonsense without it?

Did I build the conflict big enough?

Did I hit all of the points I preplanned out?

If the story changed (and it always does), did I find substitute conflict points?

Do I have 50-60 spark points?

A dozen pivotal scenes?

Very often the first edit pass is almost like a retelling of the novel. It’s going to take a couple of weeks just to get through this first stage.

This stage is crucial. Nine out of ten novels fail at the premise. And since novels often change – sometimes drastically – you have to go back through and ensure the conflict still works. That means your structure can go from workable to unworkable in the process of writing.

If you don’t do this first step, then forget the rest of them.

Suspense (the denial of something) and conflict  (the interrupted attainment of something) must be present in every scene. This is one of the major steps in this first revision.

You need to examine the plot points, which you should have listed in Project properties in the Inspector. Did you hit them all? Did one or two of them lose power in the process of writing? This does happen. If it did, did you choose a substitute story point?

There has to be three turns – first turning point, midpoint, second turning point.

You have to have the climax building in the last 10% of your book. Literally, by word 59,500 you must begin the final conflict stage in your book. This has to build up. If it was a movie, this would be the car chase.

If you have a denouement, it must be short. Don’t have a 60 page wrap-up at the end of your book. If you’ve got that, you cheated the second turn and didn’t build up enough for the climax.

Ready? Now go and edit book two. Get some daylight away from this book, then we’ll come back and start on second pass.