How to edit is always a struggle. I would love to spend a year at university learning the dynamics and professional tricks of the trade but I can’t justify doing a writer’s course (time and money affects us all) So here is my research, and how I am going to approach editing my books.
To make your book ready for an agent to see all writers must think clearly and honestly how it needs improving. YOUR FIRST DRAFT IS NOT ENOUGH.Are the characters well enough drawn? Does the book have a good structure to lead the reader through the story? Is the story itself interesting so that the themes engage with the audience?
So ask yourself. Does your novel drift aimlessly, or can you identify the narrative arc that it follows. Write out each chapter in two or 3 lines on an excel spread sheet and in another box say where it is in the story, at what phase (see below the 8 step narrative arc, and use the idea of beginning middle and end if nothing else)
Can you identify clearly how the characters work, who are the main ones, who just passes by. Put them on the spread sheet and for each chapter say who is in it.
By the end of your book you should be able to do a pretty good personal profile of each person relevant to the story. Say what happens in each chapter and why it is relevant to the story (is it just waffle or does it move the story along). And by the end you should be able to put each chapter in to any of the below methods.
So what is the perfect frame work and is there a perfect framework? It is a personal journey. Don’t be scared that it removes the creativity. It actually allows your creativity to be understood by everyone else. So methodically and with an emphasis on form and structure, not ideas, I have found various methods that were useful
The snowflake method,
The 8 step narrative arc
The Classic 12 Chapter Mystery Formula
TV tropes wiki is also a very useful tool for writers, tv script, film etc
Have a look at them, and read the reviews. Cheer up. If you read the brilliant “Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, you can see where the narrative arc loses itself (in the middle) and how the characters suddenly reappear or disappear. For instance, Miss Prost’s brother, who is almost non existent until he reappears to rescue the story at the end. And what was Sydney Carter doing in Paris any way? If only Charles Dickens had followed the snowflake method (sic) he wouldn’t have got lost in the middle.
My only other helping hint to Charles Dickens is to use his full stops more and is it necessary to use 3 paragraphs on a very simple point such as fog in the Thames estuary. He was being paid by the word, so perhaps it was. But he didn’t have the benefit of the using the above methods to trial different editing approaches. You do, and if you aren’t as good as Charles Dickens you will probably need at least one of them
I will let you know which one suits me and why.
NB A wiki, by the way, is a website set up collaboratively for the use of a community.