What is the OneNote Novel Editing Plan?
During November's National Novel Writing Month in 2017, over 400,000 writers signed up at www.nanowrimo.org and committed to writing 50,000 words towards a novel. According to the website, more than 58,000 people met their writing goal. Many of these were first-time writers. And I suspect many of them were like me when I finished drafting my first novel. What do I do now?
If you have an editor already, that's fantastic! Of course, even if you have an editor, you may still want to work through the exercises I've put together in order to hand off a copy that is as clean as you can get it because that might save your editor time which means that might also save you money. It's important to note that even though I'm providing a work-plan for editing, this doesn't mean I think you can or should forego an editor once you're done. Au contraire! An editor will be able to see things you miss because you are so "close" to your work. They will be able to point out spots that lag, inconsistencies in characters, and find spelling and grammar mistakes that you have overlooked the last 45 times you read through your work.
The biggest question for someone who's written a novel for the first time is, where do I begin? It's a lot of words. It can feel incredibly overwhelming to have 50,000 words or more and not have any idea how to begin editing. That's where this OneNote Novel Editing Plan comes in. I'm going to give you strategies to get you moving in the right direction.
Where Does Microsoft OneNote Come In?
Microsoft OneNote is a completely free premier note-taking application. If you have Microsoft Office, you probably already have OneNote installed. On a PC, look under your Start button in All Programs > Microsoft Office. If you don't have it yet, you can download it from https://www.onenote.com. It will run on any operating system and any device you have, so you can edit anywhere anytime as long as you have access to your Editing Plan notebook and a copy of your novel.
I will be showing you how to use Microsoft OneNote to store all your notes and checklists for editing your novel. The "Plan" part of the OneNote Novel Editing Plan includes setting up checklists and worksheets that will get through the editing process one day at a time. It will feel less overwhelming working in chunks than trying to tackle 50,000 words all at once!
If you aren't familiar with using OneNote, I have written some posts to demonstrate how easy the application is to use. You can find a short list of instructions that will get you started on my Office Warrior page, the same place you will find the index to all the posts for this OneNote Novel Editing Plan.
You will find instructions for each Exercise included with a bit of information about what type of editing you will be attacking each day. You can either follow the instructions included on the page and create the tables and checklists as you go, or you can find a download for each worksheet you are directed to create and add it to your Microsoft OneNote notebook. If you aren't familiar with Microsoft OneNote and how to use page templates, you can find instructions here.
Do you have to use OneNote? Absolutely not! I've prepared templates you can download and open in OneNote, but you can do most of these exercises on paper in a notebook or journal, in Scrivener, or in any spreadsheet application o your choice. I've given you enough information in the exercises to set your worksheets up however you'd like. I'm just a huge fan of OneNote and so that's where I'm starting from.
How Do I Get Started?
I'm so happy you’re still with me! You'll find that most of the activities I present can be completed one at a time. In some cases, where noted, you will want to work on several of the exercises at once so you aren't having to redo steps and waste time. For instance, if you skip right to the grammar and spelling check, then find you have a gigantic plot hole that requires several chapters to be rewritten, you will need to do the whole grammar and spelling check all over again. Each activity has no set time frame for completion. One exercise may take you a few minutes while another one can take days. My first novel took 6 months to edit! After working a full-time job during the week, some nights I didn't have more than a half hour in me, but on weekends, I could usually get a couple hours in each day. (I took off holidays.)
Working through all the steps of editing will make you a better writer because it will illuminate the areas where you make the most mistakes or have some weakness and you'll start self-correcting as you write your next novels. If you think you have a solid story without any plot holes, then I'd say go ahead and skip around to pick off the items where you know your story needs help. Your personal OneNote Novel Editing Plan should be created to suit your needs!
Will I really get it all done in 30 days?
There's a good chance you will not get all the editing done in 30 days, but it really depends on how much work your novel requires. My first novel was a train wreck. It had plot holes, weak character development, and so many more things wrong with it that I nearly gave up on it. In the end, I spent almost a full 6 months editing before I handed it off to beta readers. Then, after my betas gave feedback, I spent a couple more months revising.
What is important to remember is that editing is not a race. It's a marathon. Pace yourself. Your journey into editing might take five days or it might take five months. The goal should be to turn your great story into a masterpiece. Don't compare yourself to others!
Day 1 - Set Up Your OneNote Notebook and Create Your Editing Checklist starts tomorrow. If you want to see what's coming in future posts, peruse the OneNote Novel Editing Plan's Table of Contents. Anything without a live link is still to come. Days 3 - 7 will be posted all at once on May 3 because the exercises for those days can be done in tandem with each other. This doesn't mean you have to do them all at once, it's just an option since reading through your novel five times could be tedious.
Best wishes and happy editing!
Return to the Table of Contents
Go to Day 1 - Set Up Your OneNote Notebook and Create Your Editing Checklist