Part 5: Line-By-Line
If you’ve been following the steps I’ve outlined, by this point, you’ve written your NaNo novel, rewritten it twice, and had a friend or editor look over it. Most likely, that involved another rewrite.
The next step is to ask someone for help again.
Before, you had them go over big picture things: character development, world building, and plot. This time, the focus will be on smaller issues. Does this scene work? Do all my characters sound the same when they’re speaking? Do my sentences make sense? What they’ll be helping you with is line editing.
Just like last time, you need someone who doesn’t already know what you’re going for in that particular passage so they can tell you places where you’ll confuse your reader. This is where people will generally hire a professional editor so that they have someone who can go through and make the needed changes. Otherwise, find a good friend who will be willing to go through your manuscript and flag all of the issues he or she can find. Hopefully, they will also be able to suggest corrections. The guidelines I gave last week on choosing someone to help with developmental editing are true here as well, but be aware that you’re asking for a much more significant time commitment from this reader.
For this, you’ll almost certainly want to use Microsoft Word’s Track Changes. Even though it’s not proofreading, your reader will want to mark spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors throughout the process, which can easily be corrected by the reader rather than simply marking them for you to fix yourself. They’ll also be able to put obvious changes in, but you’ll be able to see exactly what they’ve done so that you can do it differently or even reject the change if they misunderstood what you were going for.
When you get your manuscript back, you’ll go through all of their marks and corrections and make the necessary changes to your document. This shouldn’t take as long as the rewrites; you’re fully editing at this point.
But you’re almost done. After this, you’ll be ready to share!