How To Do An Epic Edit Of Your Novel

Often the part of the writing process people hate, only slightly less than marketing.  But Editing is a key part of writing. So whether we love it or loathe it, doesn’t stop its necessity.

Now, there are many ways to do an edit, but today I want to discuss the Epic Edit!  Some of you might hate me for even discussing this, but there is some things to be said for the Epic Edit.

Not sure what the heck I’m talking about?  Read on!

How to do an epic edit of your novel, photo of a pencil with the lead breaking


Let me ask you a question, how do you edit?

One of those many… MANY steps of being a writer are the oft-times dreaded “edit”.

We cast our eyes with panic over our manuscript, red pen poised to highlight all the glaring errors we made.  And boy are there lots!

Some writers attempt to ignore the edit all together or hurriedly cast a quick glance over and consider it “enough”.  (BTW, it’s not!)


Horror or Joy?

Some people hate editing.  Some people love it.  Which are you?

Some people write the whole manuscript before reaching for their editing pen.  Others write, edit, write, edit as they go.

Do you jump for joy at the chance to polish that marvellous story of yours?  Or do you cringe at the very idea of having to hack it to pieces again and again?


So, seriously, how do you edit?


Well, I have changed a lot throughout my writer life.  I used to write a scene (because I write in scenes, not chapters) and then edit it.  Then a few days later I’d come back, read it again and edit it again.

Sometimes I’d print scenes out and edit them in red pen.  Other times I’d do it on the computer as I read.

Let’s just say I didn’t have a system unless “disorganised and random” is a system.  In which case, that’s mine.


A Different Way To Edit

There is another way to edit.  One that I think few people even know about.  All those who I’ve spoken to never considered it.

I think of it as the Epic Edit (just to clarify, this is not some method *I* came up with.  I take no credit, I am just spreading the knowledge of it and gave it the name Epic Edit because that’s how I see it.)


The Epic Edit

So what’s involved in the Epic Edit, I hear you cry.

Simple.  You re-type your manuscript.

That’s it.

You just re-type every. single. word.

Whether you print it out, and type from the paper copy or (if you have two screens) put your existing copy on one screen and re-type it on the other.

A normal edit is when we (or someone else, BR, CP, editor etc) reads through the work and marks up any errors, consistency issues, glaring plot holes etc.

These are then amended (if required) in the manuscript…and then the process is repeated, usually a few more times.


So why consider the Epic Edit?

Apparently, the idea is that because you are typing it all again, you are more likely to spot mistakes.  More likely to realise that something doesn’t sound right or that there’s a plot hole you have missed.

It gives you a whole new perspective because you are reading as you write.

It is considered to be a method that could potentially tighten up your manuscript by shining a light on every single word.


That’s a lot of typing

Oh yes.  Depending on the size of your manuscript, that is a lot of typing.  Especially for those of us who write over 100,000-word stories.

Sounds Herculean, doesn’t it?  Maybe if Hercules was around in modern times, this would be one of his tasks.

I have to admit I am curious about it.  I certainly don’t relish re-typing my manuscript, but the idea that maybe it will give me a new perspective.

That it will show up every glaring error and clunky dialogue line that may have slid by unnoticed (let’s face it, that happens), is intriguing.


To do, or not to do?

November is a little crazy for me right now.  As mentioned in my last post, I stupidly signed up at the last minute, for NaNoWriMo.  Something I had never done before.

I am also still working on the draft of my current manuscript and attempting to develop the plot for the sequel which I hope to start writing as part of the 85k90 Day Challenge.

Add to that a Flash Fiction I need to write for someone and my business is in the middle of the Christmas rush, I barely have enough time to come up for air.

What this means is that at present, at least until November is over.  Any editing I do will be as I have always done it.  Red penning it and crying at my mistakes.

However, I am very tempted to put my current manuscript through this Epic Edit later on.  I feel I need to try this method out.

Who knows, it could be one of those incredible concepts that revolutionise our writing and has us gasping “OMG why didn’t we do this earlier!?”. 

Or it could be a huge time suck.  That gives no good results.

But sometimes, we have just got to take the plunge and see.


Over to you

So, how DO you currently edit?

Would any of you consider doing something so different as the Epic Edit?

Do you already participate in the Epic Edit?

~ ☆ ~

Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen



11 thoughts on “How To Do An Epic Edit Of Your Novel

  1. My current method of editing tends to be to start with a large scale and work my way down. I try to outline each scene, or in some cases each chapter, as a sentence or two. I find that helps me see the larger flow of the whole. Then I like to do something similar with each unit, condensing it to a few sentences so that I recognize the central pillars before diving into the details.
    I definitely agree that there’s merit in doing an epic edit. I think reading aloud is another way to more formally “see” every word. One of my college professors proponed doing an epic edit of a published novel as a way of more formally recognizing the choices they made, particularly as we would naturally start to “write our own versions” of the text, and consider the differences between how we would write it and how they did.

    1. Thanks for the comment, sounds like your outlining method gives you a strong basis for writing.

      I totally agree, reading the work out loud definitely helps. It can certainly capture some of those errors that we can often overlook just by reading silently. Even better if you can get someone to read your work to you. 🙂

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  5. This is actually how I edit! I’m working on the second draft of my first manuscript right now and I’m going through and retyping it all. Of course there’s some MAJOR changed being made at this stage, in my case, like huge plot points are being changed and new characters being added and stuff since this is my first editing go-through.
    I think that editing like this is probably best in the earlier stages of editing and maybe just at the final stage (but I’m guessing at this), so that way you can make the big necessary changes as you go rather than struggling to insert and then find/change things later on, you know? It doesn’t work for me so much with smaller bits of writing or poetry unless I’m completely rehauling everything

    1. That’s great! I am glad you shared your thoughts, it’s good to know someone has tried this method. I can imagine it’s hard going with all the retyping, but spotting errors and fixing them has got to be easier.

      Do you print out your first draft and then type it or do you have two screens and have one draft on one and the new draft on the other?

      Thanks for your comment and I’m sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve been very ill recently so not been online much. Hence the recent lack of posts on this blog

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