Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dear “Editing is Crap!” Writer

Dear “Editing is Crap!” Writer,

Editing your book can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how to edit. I know writers who hate the task, and others who enjoy it. I actually enjoy it, so I’m going to share some tips and techniques to help you get the job done.

First, download my pdf The Ultimate Editing List. I’ll share a little of what you can find in it, but the full list will really help you make your writing stronger and tighter.

Whenever I edit, I start by using the Find tool in Microsoft to hunt down unnecessary, cluttering, filter words. I input them one at a time, take a look at every sentence with the no-no word, and cut as many of them as I can.

Some of these are: that, just, like, really, very, only.

Once I eliminate these “naughty” words, I do my first of several rounds of editing. I typically do three rounds before I give it to 2-3 beta readers. Then I implement changes based on my beta readers’ notes and go over it once more for good measure.

Image from Flickr

4 Editing Techniques:

1. Print out your manuscript.

Having a tangible form of your book that you can hold and edit by hand is always useful. Buy some red pens and highlighters, punch holes into your manuscript pages, and put them in a binder for accessibility. Read each page, each line. Cut out words, sentences, and whatever else needs to go. Add words and paragraphs of descriptions. Make notes on the side to fix scenes or add more emotion. When you’re done, transport the changes to your Word DOC.

TIP: Reading through the full story after these changes are made is wise.

2. Read backwards.

Start with the final paragraph, read it in its entirety, and work your way up, paragraph by
paragraph. This technique helps you to focus on the sentences rather than the plot. It’s
also a great way for you to focus on the flow of the sentences.

3. Change the font size and color.

Changing the way something looks gives your brain a rest and a way to spot new things. I like to make the font size 16 or 18 and change the color to dark blue, green, or purple.

4. Download your document to your Kindle device.

This can be easily done by emailing the document to yourself, accessing your email on your Kindle, and opening the document to be viewed in your library. This is usually my final form of editing when I feel I’ve edited as much as I could but still want to make sure it’s ready for someone else to view it. I like this technique because I get to see and read my story as a reader would. I can spot inconsistencies, typos, and where I may need to add more emotion.

2 Steps After You Edit Your Book:

1. Get at least two beta readers to take a look and point out any errors and plot holes. 

2. If you are self-publishing, the final and most important step is to hire an editor. Yes, really. Yes, even after you edited it yourself. Look around, research, and get recommendations from other writers. 

You don’t have to do all of these techniques, but picking at least two will really make a difference.

QUESTION: How do you edit your books?

Author of Hurricane Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

Facebook / Twitter / Blog / Website / Amazon 

P.S. Today's post on my blog is 100 Marketing Tips.


Unknown said...

excellent advice - thank you

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Good tips. I cannot overstate the importance of hiring an editor when self-publishing. There is way too much edited work that you're competing with out there.

Liz A. said...

Definitely hire an editor for the final edits. They'll see things you missed.

Huntress said...

Reading it backwards is one the best tools. I'm still amazed how well it works.

Chrys Fey said...

@Brite, you're welcome!

@Karen, I'm a freelance editor, so I agree. :)

@Liz, editors are a must.

@Huntress, I love to read my stories backwards.

diedre Knight said...

I'm trying #3 and 4 today! Of course, then I'll still employ an editor before submission - anywhere ;-)

Nicola said...

I've used your editing tips since they've been available, Chrys, and have found them soooo useful. Those darn filter verbs get me every time :) Have a super week. Great post.

Lidy said...

Great tips. I also change the text font and print it out because I edit better on paper. Another tip I've learned from an online class is to have a text to speech app read your story.

When I edit I go through three step process. First I look for inconsistencies and plot holes. I look at characterization and review whether a character(s) actions, speech, etc is something they'll do. Does the suspense, emotions, darkness or lightness of the chapter retains from beginning to end. Does the chapter ends with the urge to continue to read to the next chapter.

Then I go granular and look at paragraphs and scenes. Am I overusing certain words? (Use a word cloud to find my overused words) Are there unnecessary scenes, scenes that can be cut, rearranged or would work someplace else? Are there scenes missing? Am I info dumping or head jumping? Am I telling too much, not showing enough?

Last, I look at tense and grammar mistakes. (gets me every time) Also look for spelling errors like if I mistakenly used they're instead of their.

I do the best that I can then afterwards it's all about finding a good editor.

LD Masterson said...

Hmm. I do a lot of these but I've never tried changing the font size or color. Great idea. Thanks.

Chrys Fey said...

@Diedre, have fun editing!

@Nicola, I'm thrilled you find my editing tips useful. Those filter words still sneak up on me, too.

@Lidy, thanks for sharing your process. I almost do mine backwards. I pull out my hair if I notice errors, so I fix the grammar stuff first then look deeper at the plot and characterization, etc. Which means another round of editing after to catch new mistakes. :P

@LD, you're welcome! Changing the font color and sizes is refreshing on the eyes.