- Does the story make sense? Did you take care of any plot holes? Is everyone acting according to what’s supposed to be driving them?
- Remove unnecessary scenes.
- Repeat step one, because now that you’ve cut some stuff, you might have plot holes again.
- Does it flow well? Tidy up your transitions, improve those blocks of writing you wrote just to get them down, tune up your writing style.
- Technical editing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure/flow, etc.
- Read it out loud from your computer.
- Read it silently from your computer.
- Get yourself a printed proof copy and read that out loud.
- Now read that one silently.
- Also check that printed proof for formatting issues, and make sure all your chapter headings line up with where the table of contents say they do.
- Put it away for a while, then do another round with fresh eyes.
- Now you’re probably ready to let someone else read it, giving you a new perspective that will probably draw attention to issues you had no idea existed, and potentially sending you back to step one.
People often ask how many rounds of editing a book should go through. I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve read over my story, but twelve has always been a magic number in my books. So, here’s a starting guide for your rounds of editing, though I’d honestly recommend you lose count too.