One of the hardest parts of writing a novel and editing it is seeing your work objectively. Use this revision checklist to identify areas where your book needs additional editing.
- Does the main plot arc initiate close enough to the beginning that you won’t lose the reader?
- Does your protagonist alternate between up and down moments, with the most intense towards the end?
- Are you able to trace the major plot arcs throughout the book? Do they have up and down moments?
- Do you have enough conflict?
- Does the reader see both the best and worst characteristics of your main characters?
- Do your characters have backstories and histories? Do these impact the plot?
- Is the pacing correct for your genre? Is it consistent?
- Is your voice consistent? Is it overly chatty or sarcastic?
- Is the tense completely consistent? Is the perspective consistent?
- Is there sufficient description that your reader feels grounded in the characters’ world?
- Is there too much description? (David R. Slayton)
- Are momentous events given the weight they deserve?
- Look closely at each chapter. If you can take out a chapter and the plot will still make sense, is it really necessary? Should some events be folded in with others?
- Do the relationships between your characters develop and change and become more complicated as the book goes on?
- What do your characters want? Is it apparent to the reader? Do they have both conscious and unconscious motivations?
- Do you know what your writing tics are? Do you overuse adverbs, metaphors, facial expressions, non-“said” dialogue tags, or interjections? Have you removed them?
- Do you overuse certain words or phrases? Is your word choice perfect throughout?
- Does your book come to a completely satisfying conclusion? Does it feel rushed?
- Do your main characters emerge from the book irrevocably changed?
- Are your characters distinguishable? Does it make sense to combine minor characters? (Kiersten)
- Do each of your scenes make dramatic sense on their own as well as move the overall plot forward? (Pete Peterson)
I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.
Art: Poor Artist’s Cupboard by Charles Bird King