What is Important in Self-Editing a Novel

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First and foremost, publishers will look for the mighty sense of your written story.

Answers from Elena Ornig 

Self -Editing Your Novel“… I want a book so filled with story and character that I read page after page without thinking of food and drink, because a writer has possessed me, crazed me with an unappeasable thirst to know what happens next.” – Pat Conroy.

A well written novel flows as a melody and the only way to comprehend and to feel the rhythm of a well written narrative is to read as many great novels as possible and analyse why they are great. Analyse by reflecting back on your own feelings: which characters did you like and why, which descriptions of the scenes were the best and why, how the developing plot of the novel kept you wondering to the end; or simply, what was it in general, and also specifically, that was so likable about that particular novel and why did it feel relative to you?

These exercises, of analysing well written novels, will give you the necessary understanding of how you must proceed. It will guide you to help yourself in the process of self-editing your first draft.  But don’t forget to record your findings and file them in your archive. Treasure this archive as a real ‘treasure chest’ and revisit your notes from time to time in order to remind yourself of how and why.

Don’t kid yourself – understand and accept the rule: to be a good writer you have to be prepared to constantly learn, analyse and practice self-editing. There are no short cuts – unless you were born with that talent to feel the music of the language in the creation of a story, and even then, none can avoid the hard work of polishing and mastering their writing technics.

What will a professional editor look for while reading your novel? Everything that can be improved: content layout, weakness and blunders in the structure of your sentences, correctness of researched facts, any deviation of your style and mistakes in spelling and punctuation. But this is not enough for the process of self-editing, because in the process of self-editing a writer must take into consideration what a publisher will look for and more importantly – what a reader will be satisfied with?


First and foremost, publishers will look for the mighty sense of your written story. Is your story ingenious enough to intrigue future readers, what is the moral behind your story and how well have you expressed your own attitude? What benefits will your story bestow on the readers in order to guide or help them to overcome their own difficulties in life, in relationship, in understanding of precise values or in comprehending a particular subject? Does your voice have its own individual style? Does it provide a sense of reality and relativity? Is your perspective on a subject capable of manifesting a meaningful prospective? Does your content present conveniently through the structure of the chapters: its titles, sub-titles, internal structure and the main title of your novel? Are your characters compelling and effective enough to draw the readers into your story? Are your dialogues imperative in order to expose the characters, to mirror the theme and to progress the plot? Is your novel well-researched?

In conclusion, any publisher will look at your novel from three major structural points: beginning, middle and the end. The publisher will assess the potential of your novel by identifying three points: is your beginning captivating; is your middle addictive and does your ending complete the story?

This is important for you to understand, accept and follow through when you read your fist draft in order to self-edit.  Please, write down these questions and apply them to your manuscript analysis.

My warmest regards,
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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.

Website: http://www.elenaornig.com/