Editing a novel or, well really anything, can be tricky. As for me, I tend to write quickly and let the ideas flow before going back to tidy things up and link everything together. It’s an iterative process for me because I’m constantly editing and drafting. I’ll typically edit something a few times before sharing it with someone else in a writers group or simply with a friend.
Getting feedback from someone who isn’t as close to the work is a wonderful gift to any writer. It really helps to get perspective from someone else who isn’t as close to the characters and the setting as the writer is. Another opinion adds a different view on the material and helps the writer know if they’ve managed to successfully convey the characters and their lives or not.
After I’ve run through something a few times, then gotten some feedback from a few people, I rework things again myself. I’ll also usually share it again with probably the same friend to see if it’s getting better. And then there’s more time spent editing.
I also have a trick that works well for editing drafts several times, which is to take a break and let the draft stew a bit. Doing something else and focusing on other things for a while, like the gym or spending time with the friends I’ve ignored while madly writing something, helps provide some distance.
Distance is a key ingredient of better editing and I know from experience that I’ll find more things to fix if I’ve spent a few days away from a manuscript than if I try to edit constantly.
Wherever you are in your writing, I hope that these tips are helpful. Find someone you trust to help you edit and really listen to their feedback. Keep editing while drafting because writing is an iterative process. Give yourself some time in between editing sessions, so that you can look at the manuscript with fresh eyes.
Most importantly, keep going with your writing (and editing).