I always knew editing was important, and I wrote my first draft assuming that when I was done, the editing would be just as much of a process as the initial writing itself.
I had no idea.
If anything, it's more of a process.
Throughout the actual writing, I came up against my own inexperience again and again. But I pushed through it, holding onto the eventual editing phase as my salvation. When I finished that first draft, and went back and read over it again, I realized something disconcerting: I was way out of my depth.
Having invested far too much time and energy into completing my first book, there was, of course, no way I was going to let it go easily. And the bones were there for it to be a very good story. It just lacked polish, cohesiveness, that sophistication that "professional" writers have. The very thing that makes people willing to pay money for something you've written.
I had some work to do. Okay, I had a lot of work to do.
I realized even before I whipped out my blue pencil that if I was going to effectively edit my manuscript, I needed to learn more about just what it is that makes a professionally-written romance novel. Perhaps more importantly, I needed to learn why mine wasn't. So I started reading.
And I kept reading. I read through every book on writing romance novels I owned, and bought more, and read those. And I took notes. I began compiling checklists to refer to as I went through my manuscript. Checklists for the hero. Checklists for the heroine. Love scene checklists, dialogue checklists, beginning checklists, ending checklists. I have a serious compilation of checklists now, people.
But you know what? In spite of their anal-retentive undertones, they're really helpful, especially to a newbie like myself who, prior to all that reading and note-taking, was really incapable of recognizing the huge, glaring problems in my writing.
So I'm going to share those checklists. They've really helped me out a lot, and I'm convinced at least a few other people could find them helpful, too. I've done all the work (and it was a lot of work!), now I hope others can benefit.
Happy shredding- er, editing!