Why You Should Pre-Edit Your Book

I’ve recently finished the first edit of the first book in my Cauldron Trilogy. Well I say edit, in truth it’s better catergorised as a pre-edit. The main idea was not to edit any of the actual text, but instead make notes on it as I read through. And I think it’s a really great way of starting the editing process, especially for chunkier pieces of work or books that may be part of a series.

You can work on the chronology

I wrote the book initially as a collection of scenes. So the first part of the editing process was to stitch these scenes together. And this is where the first issue was highlighted.My book has many characters and plotlines occurring, although they all work around the main one in some way. I’d bullet-point plotted all three books before I started, but as I began to put the scenes together, I realised some of them needed to be re-ordered. I also split them into rough chapters, but kept each scene “title” using a heading format, so I can easily navigate around.

You can decide who does the talking

As I mentioned before, there are many characters in the book. And while I had a central number whose I’d POV written from, I also had a few scenes written from the perspective of characters that were never directly heard from again. This has raised the question of whether I include them more or hand their parts over to someone else (sorry side characters, book editing is a cruel business).

You can identify weak areas.

As well as arranging my plot, the copious (and I mean copious) notes I made ranged from querying something about a character, to addressing a feature of my books mythology, and of course whether some scenes needed to be included at all. Some of these I’ll work on as part of the actual edit. But my next step will be to pin down “external” issues, for example a map of the place where the story is set (drawing things related to your book can be very useful).

I’m not sure writer-me will appreciate quite how many things editor-me has noted, but ultimately it should help.

Have you used this technique before? Or do you have any other editing tips and tricks? Please share in the comments.

Related reads

5 Tips On Editing From An Editor

Writing A Book Part 5 – Editing

Reading Out Loud


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6 thoughts on “Why You Should Pre-Edit Your Book

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  1. I absolutely do something similar. I call it an editorial map, but the name doesn’t matter. First drafts are messy and as such require a plan. Typically, I have big chunks of the story that need to be shifted, deleted, or added. Often there are scattered notes and directions. I bring it all together while rereading the first draft. Too, some of those directions must be addressed, like research and, yes, creating maps.

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  2. I write in a similar fashion, for non-fiction, and split out things so I can ‘drag and re-order’, edit each section and then once I’m happy with each section, each portion, the chronological flow, then I ‘stitch’ them together via one or two lines for transition, etc. Still not perfect, and feels often like I do the same re-work multiple times, and I’m STILL working on my deep hatred of ‘re-work’ from my prior life of work duties (data entry/done right/first time…) activities – – needless to say – my inner ‘sigh, why didn’t I ‘enter’ this correctly the first time?’ is my #1 internal issue with working through becoming an ‘editor’ me – – LOL

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