5 Things I Learned From Working On My First Novel

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When you are an author, working with a professional editor on your novel is a powerful thing. While your publishing house has probably already given you some feedback on your writing, this is when someone will give you quite concrete corrections on one of your pieces. When I was working with a professional editor on my first novel, I was seventeen years old and about to publish a young adult fantasy novel.

Today I cannot believe how many things I learned from this experience and would like to share these with you!


#1 Your readers don’t know what you know.

As an author, you may have a thousand post-its fixed to your wall and a whole lot of documents on your laptop about your novel. The readers don’t have this though. Don’t forget that they know less than you do – which can be a great challenge, but also gives you the chance to add more suspense to your novel!

#2 You get used to what you’ve written.

At the point when you get to work with a professional editor, you likely have already read your own novel a million times. There are errors you simply get used to and end up missing, though once pointed out they seem obvious. Don’t worry though, this is why you are working with an editor!

#3 Try to imagine the scenery.

One of the mistakes I make most is to forget what I’ve written before about the scenery, if your two protagonists are at the beach, you cannot write that one of them feels the grass between his or her toes – because there can only be sand. If your two protagonists are having a conversation facing each other, you cannot write that one turns to take a look at the other.

#4 Teamwork is the magic word.

As it was my first novel, I had never worked with someone on my stories before – but it’s so important! Sure, it’s your novel and it’s your name which will end up on the cover, but still it’s so important to acknowledge and appreciate the effort your editor is making.

#5 Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself

There may be cases when teamwork was just not meant for the two of you, once for example, I worked with an editor who had a different choice of words than mine and made me feel like the readers would easily recognize where he had changed words. Appreciate what your editor is doing for you – but also, stand up for what you want your novel to be like!

Photo by Johnny Fonseca for CGD

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  • Camille Beygui

    Great post

  • Gless Fuentebella

    I can relate to the first three points on this post, although I’ve never actually finished writing a novel :P A novel being published at 17 years old though! It makes me question why I haven’t published a novel yet and I’m nearly 20! I better get crackin’ ahaha :)

  • Jen

    I needed this so badly right now. In the fall I’ll be starting my MFA in Creative Writing and I can’t wait to get started!! :)

  • Carrie, the dreamer

    Hi! The firsts three points really helped a me lot, especially the first one. I have like an internal whole world on my mind and most of the times I forget that the other people cant’ read mind or see inside. So thank you (I have to do my essay for passing my exams this summer though). After that, I’m 18 and I love writing for myself and about some fiction too (I use them to express my utopias/dreams); so I don’t have someone I can share my stuff with or someone who can helps or advises me. What could I do? My dream is becoming a writer (but firstly I thought to have some journalist ans interviewer experiences). Which tips could you give me?

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