Plotting a Novel: Part 7 - Preparing to Edit

Throughout 2023 writing instructor and pre-published author Tracey Kathryn (T.K.) Sheffield and I will be offering a blog series on plotting from the beginning developmental stage through the messy middle and all the way to the end, including editing advice on how to fix plot problems in a completed manuscript.

In Part 1, Tracey lists wonderful resources that are great for those that are new to writing or looking for a new approach to plotting in: "Plotting a Novel: Resources for Those Just Starting Out."

In Part 2, Tracey discusses how to use plotlines, tropes, and conflict to test your story ideas: "Testing Novel Ideas

In Part 3, Tracey and I discuss the virtues of outlining your novel vs. pantsing (aka: writing by the seat of your pants.) Watch the video here.

In Part 4, I write about the difference between the hook and the inciting incident

In Part 5, Tracey gives tips on how to avoid the dreaded messy middle of the novel. 

In Part 6, Tracey and I discuss the different types of novel endings and the tips and tricks for writing each well. Watch the video here.

Part 7 brings us to the very beginning of the editing process -- actually these steps are preparing you for editing. The short video below goes over these steps. (They're also noted below the video.)


1) Let your manuscript marinate or rest for a little while before you do an initial read.

2) Read your manuscript straight through like a reader would . . . only stopping briefly to note sections where:

► the pace slows

► something is confusing or there's a section where you (the reader) needs to know more

► there's too much narration or too much dialogue

► a plot point is implausible or contradicts something you wrote earlier

► there's anything that takes you out of the story

3) If you realize you may have some plotting/pacing issues . . . make sure to write down the main action of each chapter to see if each chapter is doing its job to move the plot forward and/or note each of your plot points on the plotting diagram, which may show you where your missing the timing of key plot points. 

Happy writing! ~Tracey & Valerie

T.K. Sheffield, MA  -- Pre-published author, The Seymour Agency

I write books for readers who want to laugh and escape.

The Backyard Model Cozy Mysteries: A retired fashion model uses her skill at spotting posers to solve murders in her touristy Wisconsin town. (The first book in the series is on submission to publishers.)

The Valentine Lines: Cupid, minor god of love, is upset by the dismal state of romance; he blames dating apps. The god persuades—tricks?—his Aunt Hera, temperamental CEO of Mt. Olympus, Inc., into letting him move from drafty Olympus to a quaint small town. Ironically, the love god is struck by his own arrow and falls for a beautiful cafe owner. The relationship surprises his romance-business clients and angers his aunt. It’s a magical, fun, romantic comedy.

Follow Tracy on InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest for writing tips, author news, and to share my Wisconsin backyard.


Valerie Biel 

Award-winning author of the Circle of Nine series, writing educator, book editor, and author coach. (and if you're reading this -- you're already on my website -- so hang around and check out my books or other blog posts!)

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