Self-Editing with Kesia Lupo

In this series of reflections and exercises on self-editing, I’ll be drawing on my experience as an editor – working on a variety of children’s fiction from 7+ to YA – but also on my experience as a writer. Editing yourself is no easy task – you’re so close to the work that sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees. Even though my day job is editing, I found it really difficult to work on my own writing without outside guidance. The process of self-editing begins and continues with trying to take a step back and assess your work for what it is, not for what it means to you or what you were imagining when you wrote it. 

It would be impossible to cover all the different ways to edit a book, all the different ways of thinking about stories and storytelling. There are whole books written on the subject – and it can get incredibly technical and academic. What I’ve tried to do here is draw on my own practical experience to give you a couple of shortcuts, ways of thinking about your book that provide routes in to an edit. Bear in mind that this is not exhaustive, and some techniques don’t work for everyone. If there was something in particular here that worked for you, then use it – and if there was something you couldn’t get your head around, don’t force it. More than anything, editing is about putting yourself in the reader’s shoes and thinking about their experience.


Kesia Lupo studied History at Oxford and Creative Writing at Bath Spa. She is the author of YA fantasy novel We Are Blood and Thunder and also works as Senior Editor at Chicken House, a children’s book publisher based in Somerset.


Establishing distance from your work. Reading your manuscript like a reader. Writing sales and marketing copy to crystallize your vision for the book. 


Your character journeys. Heroes and Villains. Asking the right questions and keeping focus. Common character based structural edits to bear in mind.


Plotting and structure. Story beats, 5 act and other common structures. Climactic points in a story. Ways of representing structure. Planning your second draft.


This section is designed for after a redraft. Beta readers. Scene-by-scene work. Copy-editing.

Each session will include two fun and challenging exercises – most of them will be about creating material to use in the edit, or getting yourself thinking about the book in a different way.