Posted on April 5, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
Editing is an important process in writing. Of course it’s also a great E word. So is Energy, which I apparently have none of today and did not get to the editing I was supposed to work on today. At any rate, I am going to attempt to write a coherent post about editing, even with my lack of energy.
5 Great Tips for Editing
1. Walk Away. Take a break. Eat something. Go for a walk. Better yet, sleep on it. Then come back with a fresh eye. If you try to edit immediately, you will miss a lot. It’s easier to spot errors, spelling mistakes, double words and other such mistakes if you give it some time between the actual writing and the editing process. Just walk away from it for awhile and be sure to come back with a new energy and focus, it will certainly make a difference.
2. Read out loud. Sometimes reading something out loud sounds differently than what you intended, and some times it isn’t noticeable until you start reading it out loud. If something doesn’t seem like it flows right when you read it back, you can fix it as you go. Seriously, if you are a writer and you live in a household where people know you are a writer, I’m pretty certain they will be used to the crazy tactics you take with your writing – fighting with characters, talking to yourself, etc.
3. Choose your words carefully. Don’t stick words that aren’t part of everyday language in your stories. Using a dictionary full of 18th century words, for a modern day manuscript makes no sense. I recently read a book I was so disappointed by – Saving Max. The author’s choice of words for the first half of the book, were outdated and it felt as if she was trying to show off a big vocabulary. The plot was good, but the words were distracting and lent nothing to the actual story. It was a difficult read, so make sure when you choose words, you choose words that are familiar enough to people that they don’t feel as if they need an ancient dictionary with them to make sense.
4. Make sure you stay consistent. Don’t change your writing voice halfway through the book. This was another problem with the aforementioned book, Saving Max. Somewhere towards the latter part of the middle of the book, her voice changed entirely and it felt as if it was written by someone else entirely. It almost made me think she started the book years ago and then picked it up one day and decided to finish it years later. Keep your writing, your style and the voice the same through the whole book. This is important for the flow.
5. Remove any sentence that does not flow logically from the one before it. Also remove any sentence that does not lead logically to the next one. If they don’t go together or flow nicely, there is no reason to have it there. While I know this one sort of combines a few of these into one, it really does require repeating, as this is done often in books I read. Eliminate what is not necessary, it will make your writing much tighter and flow much easier.
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