The advantages of ‘putting it away’

One of the things I read most often when it comes to book editing is to put it away for a month or more and then come back to it sometime later. Then, after a while, go over it again and you will have more distance and be able to spot errors easier. Me, being overly keen on sending my work out, never used to follow this advice when I first queried a novel. This was years ago and I’ve gotten wiser (and unfortunately also older!)

Now I can see the value in this. I’ve actually put my book away a couple of times now, once during the first editing, and then again when I took a break from querying earlier in the year. I recently picked it up again and found a couple more errors I had missed. Even after many rounds of editing, test reading, and editing again. There aren’t any typos or grammatical errors, but little things that still slipped through the cracks:

  • A character points out that you can’t bring meat on a plane only to board with some Italian sausage in their carry on in the next scene.
  • A previously unmentioned car that’s suddenly being driven around.
  • A phone call the MC urgently needs to make but then never refers to again.

Things of this nature. While editing I tend to pay close attention to spelling, grammar, the way characters speak, the pace and plot of the novel, so small things can slip past without being noticed.

By putting the book away for a few months it gave me the distance to read it again with fresh eyes and I was able to pick up on little things that were missed. I recommend this to anyone who’s working on a novel. Editing truly is never finished!