Editing in Reverse

Posted Pete Bauer Novel, Writing

One of the best editing advices I’ve ever heard was this…

Edit your story in reverse.

pencil2What does that mean?  Start with the last chapter and go backwards.  The early chapters have invariably been reread and edited far more than the later chapters, but, in a good novel, ever chapter has to be good.  So, give those later chapters a fresh look by starting with them.

I tried this recently on the latest round of edits on our Gabby Wells: Water & Blood novel and it was a tremendous help.  I was amazed at how many tweaks needed to be made by using this very simple technique.

Granted, reading the story that way made me feel like the main character in Memento, but it is a great approach.

BTW – I searched and searched and could not find the book or website where I read that advice.  I wanted to give that person credit.  So, whoever you are, thanks!

2 Comments on “Editing in Reverse

  • Kari says:


    This does make SO MUCH sense. I keep thinking about re-visiting my un-edited 2nd novel (again), I still hate to let it go without more of a fight. Maybe I’ll pull it out and re-read it, looking at the end first…… a fresh perspective and a new approach to editing might make all the difference.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • sonlightpicturesblog says:


      I look forward to hearing how this editing approach worked on your second novel. It’s such a simple idea, I was embarrassed I hadn’t thought of it myself.

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