Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2Thank you, Raimey Gallant for organizing the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. Today is the second post of this new series, and I’m very excited to be part of it.

This is a monthly blog hop on the theme of resources/learning for authors: posts related to the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, blogging tips for authors, reviews of author-related products, anything that an author would find helpful.

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, just hop on over to Ramey Gallant!

I’ll focus this entire series on self-editing. The first blog in my series covers Why Learn To Self-Edit.



Today, let’s talk about characters in the context of editing. 

Why do people read novels?

I think it’s to find out what happens next. But what happens next is only interesting if it the “what happens next” involves characters or something that is important to a character.

Characters ARE your story. They act and react. They create emotion. They show motivation. Without any of this, you don’t have a story. That’s a tall order for your characters. So how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of them?

You rewrite and revise until your characters are performing at their best.

Taking on the task of rewriting your first draft doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A little bit of organization will help you complete your rewrite without it taking forever.

Characters and Novel Structure

You’ve finished your first draft, so most likely you know who your characters are, what they look like, where they work and so on. But what about how they fit into your story structure? To understand this and make the most of it, you must evaluate your characters in the context of the structure of your novel.

By this point, you’ll also know if you’re writing from first person point of view (POV) or third person. You’ve also decided if you are writing from multiple points of view. In essence, you know who is telling your story. Feedback will help you keep track of POV and how you balance your POV scenes throughout the novel.

When thinking about the POV character for each scene, ask yourself:

  • What is the POV goal for the scene?
  • How does the goal relate to the plot?
  • What or who is working against the POV goal?
  • What happens if your POV doesn’t achieve the goal?
  • How does scene affect your POV character?

Once you’ve answered the questions, check each scene to ensure the reader will understand the answers. You can show, tell, or imply the answers. It’s up to you to find the right balance. The more important the event, the more you should show the reader what’s happening. The less important could be told quickly, so the reader can move on to the good stuff.


More Self-Editing Advice

BIG-PICTURE EditingIf you’re looking for more help on self-editing download the free eBook, BIG-PICTURE Editing And The Key Elements Of Fiction and learn how big-picture editing is all about evaluating the major components of your story. We call these components the Key Elements Of Fiction.  Our eBook shows you how to use the key elements of fiction to evaluate your story and become your own big-picture editor.

Interested In An Automated Approach To Big-Picture Self-Editing?

Feedback Innovations (which I happen to be the CEO of) is building the Feedback app .

Feedback is the first web app to help fiction writers evaluate their own work with a focus on story, not words.

With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Happy editing and thanks for reading…


54 thoughts on “Learn How To Self-Edit #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  1. Another great post on self editing! I’ve just finished my second draft and am doing a quick read through before sending to beta readers, so I’m fully immersed in editing mode 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh that’s a good one! I’m one of those readers who reads every word about 7 times by the time I finish, it’s why I’m so slow 😂 I probably wouldn’t have even considered this if you didn’t suggest it, thanks 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I find the more specific I can be with beta readers, the more value I get out of them. My other favorite, because I write mysteries, is to ask that they note in the margin every time they think they know who the murderer is. This helps me get clues in the right place. My 3rd question is tell me any time you get confused on who a character is.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Pacing in mystery stories is always so fascinating to observe! It’s like you’ve got one act to put the pieces on the board, and then one act to move them into position (and maybe sneak one new piece in) and then by the third act everything has to be settled into place, but done in such a way that the reader hasn’t seen it all yet … I really admire the craft!

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I write fantasy, although I grew up on mysteries and I think it’s carried over; there’s always a certain amount of “whodunnit” in my underlying plots. What word counts (give or take) are you talking about when you refer to a short or long scene? I tend to think of word counts as things that just happen – but I can see where exercising control over them could be really useful.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. This is really great advice. I am not quite to the beta reader phase yet, but it is sure to arrive before I know it.

        Creating character-driven scenes with conflict are so important to building tension. Thanks for this straightforward look at how to make sure you are crafting scenes that accomplish this.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi E.M.A, have fun when you get to the beat reading phase. It’s stressful, but with good readers you’ll gain a lot of knowledge from it. It took me a while to figure out the different between conflict and tension. I thad that lightbulb moment, and then it got easier to control.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your checklist on checking scenes to see if they are doing enough work! That is a constant pitfall I see in some of my beta reads. Not only must every scene serve more than one purpose (plot advancement, character building, etc), but those purposes and its consequences must come across clearly to the reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vanessa, I’m already using the feedback app on my current WIP. We have other writers testing on their manuscripts to ensure we are capturing what’s important to other writers – not just what I want of my books 🙂


  3. Having clear scene goals is one of the things that I’ve also found really helpful in editing, although I’ve never thought to approach it from a POV angle before! It’s so easy to write things thinking you know what they’re adding to your novel, but then when you actually ask the questions, it turns out that a given scene isn’t actually doing what you hoped it would …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Katherine, I need a process to follow or I just read my scene and think it’s great. If I ask myself hard questions, and am honest about the answers, my scenes always turn out better. It’s hard work, but I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Katherine, I wrote a blog about word count at http://bit.ly/2qVHlv7 A scene could be as short at one word or it could be thousands of words. The idea is to think about how word count affects pacing. If you want to slow the pacing, add more detail and lengthen a scene. Faster pacing, shorten the scene. There is a lot of talk about 1200 words being ideal because so many readers use phones to read these days. If a scene is too long, it’s hard to stick with it on a phone.


  5. So people read for character.

    As a writer and freelance editor, I read a lot of books and blog posts on all aspects of writing, and there seems to be little agreement on what is most important – plot or character. Plot seems to be winning, if the books are anything to go by.(Perhaps because it’s easier to set a good formula for plot that for character).

    But you’re right: people read for character. I’m currently reading a novel which meanders a bit in terms of plot and structure, but I keep reading because of the characters.

    Great discussion – thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Iola, Thanks for stopping by. There are so many things to consider when writing. A great plot is certainly important, too. There’s no easy way to write a novel readers will love – but the hard word it lots of fun.


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