The Seven Edits of Highly Effective Authors

Written By Ava

I found an interesting post the other day. While blog hopping—an activity I don’t usually enjoy—I came upon a blog that I have since become quite familiar with.

Chas Hathaway appears at regular intervals on WritingSnippets, either as a commenter, or as an unusually lucky winner of give-aways.

This particular post was called, “The Seven Edits of Highly Effective Authors”.

The Edits were as follows:

  1. Fill the holes: All the things that you know are missing from the story or need to be tied together are done in this edit. Extra scenes, little drops of information that will help your reader better understand the story.
  1. Shot-gun edit: This is when you check your “big-picture” things. The plot arc, timeline, pacing, etc.
  1. Character revisions: Check your character arcs, voices, mannerisms. Are too many people characterized by “taking a deep breath” or “tossing her head”? You can do away with all “tossing of heads”. Cliché, ‘nuff said. Would character A really say to character B, “Daughter, it is impossible for me to communicate with you in this state. I will take my leave and speak to you no further on this matter…” …Yipe, what a mouthful…
  1. Research: Check your facts. When I was writing my current WIP, I had some doubts about the word, “Neanderthal”. Character A says to character B, “…for that one reason, you assume I am a Neanderthal…” The character was speaking in the year 1820, but the word ‘Neanderthal’ didn’t exist until 1856, when humanoid fossils were identified in the Neander Valley gorge near Düsseldorf, Switzerland.
  1. Structure: Order of scenes. Does Calvin find out that Suzie is a secret agent before or after the school cafeteria blows up? It might make a difference.
  1. Line edit: Spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. My temptation is to skip everything else and go right to the line edit. I can see if I’ve spelled ‘puncuation’ wrong, but I can’t see the gaping hole in my plot that characters, publishers, and any readers brave enough to turn to the second page are going to fall into. But if you do line edits first, then you have to write in scenes and change dialogue and reorder plot or character arcs, then you have to go back and do the line edit all over again. Refrain!!! Do the line edit at the end, not the beginning!
  1. Visual balance: This one never occurred to me. *Sigh*. One more thing on my list of things to learn about writing…QUICK! Chas says, look for huge blocks of text with no breaks for the reader to stop and breathe, or conversations that go on for pages and pages.

I’m learning about all these things as I go, as I think most of you probably are as well. Good luck with all edits everywhere, and go check out The Seven Edits of Highly Effective Authors at

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Information for the beginning or aspiring writer about all things writing in the fiction world. Novels, publishing, etc. We feature author and other professional interviews. View all posts by Writing Snippets

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