My first thought when going into editing was “I can just go chapter by chapter.” That was a mistake. The first one was completed with little issue. I also brought that chapter to my writing group and had some great feedback that shaped it into what it is today.

The second chapter was a mess. I read it and reread it. Nothing changed. I didn’t see the goal. Every chapter should have a goal, even if they are tiny. Is your main character trying to cross the street, but then they encounter an old friend who keeps them from that goal? Could that friend be trying to extract information and your main character doesn’t know it?

I checked the next chapter to see what direction I had this part of the story moving in. As I was reading it, I realized that the third chapter belonged before the second. My mind, at the time of writing this story, had made sense of this timeline, somehow. I can’t tell you how Past Vince thought this made sense. Present Vince has no idea and won’t be delving into this.

I went back and opened a new document. The goal of this was to summarize each chapter and write down notes of what needs to be changed. The notes for chapters 2 and 3 both contain swapping the chapters. I continued reading and noting. I noticed inconsistencies, motivation changes, and bad writing.

After 32 chapters of summary and notes, I am now confident in editing the full novel. I highly recommend following a similar process in your own writing. The current novel was written as a pantser. I have another one in the works that has each chapter summarized with goals, who is involved, and the outcome.

As with all writing advice, this is what works for me. It is a hybrid outline/pantser method that allows for openness in the writing but has a direction. Thank you for checking this out and I look forward to updating you more on the progress and sharing more.