First round edits, part 1: Getting ready.

For those of you who don't know, I'm in the middle of first-round edits for The House of a Thousand Dolls, and I'm blogging about the process. Feel free to chime in with questions, suggestions or general awesomeness.

Before I even got the editorial letter, I was working on the book.

Now bear in mind that I had some idea of what was coming. (Not all, by any means, but some.) I had done revisions on the first eight chapters before I even got the book deal, and I knew that a lot of what Sarah was going to say was going to be a deeper, book-wide version of those changes.

I didn't know enough to get started on actually editing, but I did know enough to get organized.

Step One: Get Organized

My preferred way to get organized is to use Scrivener. I like Scrivener for edits because of the collections feature, which allows you to make "collections" of certain scenes, and put them in what basically amounts to a separate document. Then you edit all the scenes in one continuous flow, and the changes are automatically registered on the main manuscript. It's amazing for following plot points and working on character development.

So I sat down and and plugged my book into Scrivener, separating out each scene. (That took a while.) Then I made collections for all the changes I thought Sarah might ask for.

I made one for each main character, one for each important setting (there was going to be a lot of combining settings in my future) and a few for specific plot threads. When I was done, it looked like this:

If you don't have a program like this, there are other ways to highlight different threads in your manuscript. One is to go into word and actually highlight important threads, using different colors (see what I did there.)  Or you can use a symbol, like # or @, to mark them, and then run the search feature.

Search is also a good way to follow a character through your book. Simply plug their name in, and check every scene that comes up. It helps you keep track of what other characters are saying about them as well.

Everybody organizes differently. For example, Natalie Whipple waited until the editor letter arrived and then divided it up into colorful folders, tackling one at a time.  Some writers do lots of small passes, some make a checklist first and then do one big pass.

But when you're doing a full-on, fix-everything, manuscript-wide edit, you have to get organized. Otherwise the sheer enormity of what you're doing with sink in and you'll end up in the corner, rocking back and forth, muttering about romantic arcs and worldbuilding consistency.

And no one wants that.

How do YOU get organized?

Total time spent getting organized: About an hour-and-a-half.

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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.