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Editing 101 Oct 24, 2021

 

By Lizzy Goudsmit Kay: Editorial Director and published author of Seven Lies.

There is something inevitably chaotic about the first draft of a new novel. Who are these characters? Where are they going? You can experiment with tenses and voices. You can shift the sex, age or outlook of your characters between one page and the next. You can switch countries or seasons, if you so choose, following your instincts and trusting the story. There are no poor decisions. There are no set-in-stone answers. There is only the blank page before you and the words that feel right in that moment.

It doesn’t matter if you identify as a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’; you can be sure of very little in the first draft. Even if you are the type of writer who crafts a detailed plan before committing to a single sentence, you might still discover that a character has a mind of his or her own and walks off in an unexpected direction. There was no way to know that beforehand;...

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