|Image: Terry Border 2011|
The first layer is sorting out first draft. First draft isn't supposed to make sense. It's all incomplete sentences, random words like '+reaction' or '+wibbly wobbly explanation?'.
The second layer is more subtle. You might add more descriptions at this point, increase the richness of the characters' emotional world. You may repeat this a few times, essentially building up layers. When you can't think how else to improve it, stop.
At this point, you might not want to look at what you wrote for a while. Maybe you'll be able to find a dear and trusted friend who can read it for you. The longer you go on with editing, the harder it is to find your dear and trusted friends as they start to hide when they see you coming. The whole process of asking other people to read your work is probably worthy of a post in its own right.
So let's assume you've put your novel away for a while. With eager, trembling excitement, you take it out.
This is the part where you start crying.
Knowing what I know now (I've been banging my head against this particular brick wall for an embarrassingly long time), the moment I've just described is about ten percent of the way through the editing process. When you realise this, you will start crying again.
For those of you who have ever wondered, this is why I have that mad look in my eye. See Where Confidence Tips into Madness.
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