Congratulations, you've passed from the simple polishing into the meaty, sweaty, grinding part of the Editing process! This stage is one that makes or breaks newbie authors. On one hand, mastering this aspect of writing and editing can fundamentally change how you consume and produce media. On the other, you've got a lot on your plate already without having to learn how to break apart your precious baby like a chunk of shredded cheese that was frozen for too long.
We call this stage the Developmental Edit. From here your story is going to change drastically. Before in the Beta Review, we only looked over the parts of the story and made mentions of things the author could do to improve. Here, we take the reins. This can be a scary time for authors and editors alike, so for your peace of mind, we make sure to document any changes and label why we made these actions. Thankfully, Google has made this process a lot less painful than it used to be in the past. Imagine getting a paperback from your teacher all filled with red lines. That's kind of what this is like. Only instead of lines, we just make the changes. Before you start sweating bullets, all of our edits will be in suggestion mode. It will ultimately be up to the author to accept or reject the changes we suggest.
What do we do, specifically, and how do you DIY?
First, before anything else, you need to take a break. No, really. Chances are, you're still high off the sheer endorphins from finishing your manuscript. At this point your mind is so into your own work, you wouldn't notice a typo if it jumped right out of your manuscript and murdered your family. I've seen it happen to hundreds of authors, some you may have heard of. (It even happened with these articles, before his lovely partner came in to reread them!) In some of the more aggressive examples of this, it can leave you feeling like you don't even know how to spell correctly.
That's actually pretty normal. And luckily for everyone, the easiest way to fix this is to take a break. Go eat dinner, drink plenty of water, watch a movie, read a book. Go play that victory video game you've been putting off. You've finished the story. Celebrate it!
But after one week or so, come back with a fresh head and a totally new mindset. In this case, the saying is absolutely right. Write it fast; Edit slow. It's so important I'll say it twice: Write it fast; Edit slow. So go on. Leave off right here until your ready. Trust me, we'll wait.
Now that you're ready to begin, we start by making a document with your chapter titles and tab in a short summary of each chapter. If you're a planner type who already made these outlines, you're going to have to make all new outlines. You created the old outlines before the manuscript was done. Now that it's finished, you may find that some things really have changed. And you won't be able to see it unless you're able to toss out the old guidelines and re-write them. Next, we look through each chapter individually, starting at the end. We evaluate each hook and ending on it's own merits without context and change them depending on how strong or weak they are.
The next step is to evaluate each scene and find how they relate to the chapter. From here, we recommend adding or deleting scenes as needed. The author is ultimately responsible for following these recommendations. With this, we also tweak individual scenes -- cutting out redundancies and sometimes even combining scenes. We may change the order of paragraphs, and in extreme cases add totally new paragraphs to extend or enhance moments.
Our focus here is to either A: Fill out your chapter with content, or B: Cut content from the chapter. As you can imagine, overwriters and underwriters particularly benefit from this stage.
We already highlighted any glaring problems in the Beta Reviews, so at this stage we're free to fiddle around with the inner mechanisms until it reads smoothly.
We do this for each chapter. And, once we're finished, we read through the manuscript one last time from the top.
Once we've got all the kinks worked out, we begin the Line Edit.