Monday, August 6, 2012

Eight Steps To Editing Your Best Seller


You’ve written the next best seller and it’s time to submit it to a publisher. You want your story error free, but let’s face it, no matter how perfect your story reads, the editor still finds ways to improve your work. However, you do want the manuscript as clean of errors as possible. Every writer needs to be an editor and with these easy steps, you’re on your way.
1. Editing is easier if you use a hard copy. If at all possible, print out your story. Mistakes and overused words will jump off the page. 
2. Remove your favorite repetitive words or phrases. If you’re anything like I am, I tend to take one word or phrase and overuse it. In one story, I had my hero running his hand through his hair so many times, he should have been bald by the end of the story. Be ruthless and delete those overused phrases!
3. Use a pen or pencil to cut out long sections that go nowhere and add nothing to forward the momentum of the story. Remember you can always add back anything you cross out if you truly believe you must.
4. Remove adverbs and adjectives. Make those lazy nouns and verbs do most of the work. I hate to tell you this, but there’s no elementary school teacher to give you a gold star for the more adverbs and adjectives you use.
5. Try editing your work from a different location. If you write at your desk, then edit while sitting on your patio sipping a cold iced drink. A different location will stimulate your mind.
6. Check first words of consecutive paragraphs. Try to avoid having every sentence start with he or she. Repetitive use of names is annoying, too. Check for overuse of first names, especially in dialogue. Repetition of names will cause the story to drag.
7. Read your story aloud. This will help you hear mistakes your eyes have missed. I tend to drop words like ‘a’ and ‘the’. I use speech to text on my computer to read the story to me. Make sure your sentences are structurally sound and make sure you use the same verb tense and voice throughout your story.
8. Rest your eyes. Take a break after a section so your eyes can rest. You can’t spot mistakes if your eyes are tired.
I hope these simple steps help you edit your next story. If you have any useful pointers, I’d love to hear them.  




29 comments:

Andrea Downing said... Best Blogger Tips

Great advice, Karen. If the writer insists on keeping the mss on computer, changing the font helps by tricking the eye.

Kathy Otten said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Karen,
Concise and valuable. Great tip to write down and go through right before submission. In my critique group we read aloud and we all very often catch things that way.

Margaret Fieland said... Best Blogger Tips

Someone gave this very simple bit of advice, which I now heartily endorse:

After you print it out (in a different font and different spacing than the one you've been working on), read the *whole thing* from start to finish, making notes about (but NOT fixing) everything that you notice. Repeat: nobly resist the urge to fix anything. Just make notes on that nice hard copy.

Maddy said... Best Blogger Tips

Wise words. I'm particularly guilty of starting paragraphs with the same word.

I like the idea of taking myself to a different location - in my dreams.

And reading aloud is a must.

Anne Patrick said... Best Blogger Tips

Before submitting to my publisher I always send the book to my Kindle and used the text to speech as I'm reading it. It has helped me tremendously.

Lynnette Hallberg said... Best Blogger Tips

I use the reading aloud technique but have never used the text to speech feature on my computer. I'll need to give that a try.

Pamela Fryer said... Best Blogger Tips

These are great tips. I firmly believe in printing out a hard copy, but I cannot read my work aloud. It just doesn't work for me.

Jacqueline Seewald said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Karen,

I agree with Pamela, these are excellent suggestions, most of which I already use. Like most writers, I do a lot of self-editing before I send my work out into the world.

Grace/Lu said... Best Blogger Tips

Great advice. I do all these things. The reading-aloud is a must for me. My ear picks up awkward phrasing that my eye just skimmed over. (One of my overused words is "just", hehe)

I also do what Margaret suggested - do a complete read while taking notes, NO fixing things. That way I stay in the flow of the story and am more likely to pick up a timeline mistake, or notice a problem with pacing.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Andrea,
I've actually done that before. Changing the font does help. :) Thanks for mentioning it.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Andrea,
I've actually done that before. Changing the font does help. :) Thanks for mentioning it.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Kathy,

Yep, reading it aloud makes a big difference. :) That's fantastic that you have a critique group who will do that.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Margaret,

Changing the font and using a hard copy is excellent advice. Thanks for coming by and sharing.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Maddy,

Reading aloud is important to catch those dropped words, too.
Thanks so much for coming by.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Anne,

I love the text to speech option on the Kindle. I've done that, too. I also love to use this option when I'm reviewing so I can listen to it in the car on my way to work.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Lynette,

The text to speech sometimes works better for me. Even reading it aloud, I tend to fill in the drop letters even though they aren't there. lol

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Pamela,

Speech to text works better for me. I agree, a hard copy is a must.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Grace/Lu,

Using the text to speech is great for picking up awkward phrasing.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Jacqueline,

I agree, it's a must to go over the manuscript many times before submitting. Thanks so much for coming by. :)

Ilona Fridl said... Best Blogger Tips

Karen, great post! I've put out a find on certain words like "just" and could eliminate most of them. That's a good way to get rid of overused words.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

I used to print out the book chapter by chapter to edit but, shoot, printer ink costs a fortune now. I like the list of specific things to check. A very helpful blog, Karen. Thanks.

Jina Bacarr said... Best Blogger Tips

Terrific advice, Karen, on all counts!

The only thing I would add is putting your m/s away for a time (if at all possible)--say, a week or two. You will see it with a fresh eye, making it easier to edit.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Ilona,

Putting out a search for certain words is great advice. That is a big one with me. :)

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah,

So glad you could come by.

Lists are great. I use sticky notes.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Jina,

So true. Putting the MS away for a bit is great advice. When you go back to it again, you'll have a fresh outlook.

Nancy Jardine said... Best Blogger Tips

Great advice, Karen. I read this post days ago and thought I'd replied. Well, here are the comments I meant to make then. My editing skills need a lot of sharpening, but for dealing with POV issues I've started to use a different font colour for each main character. When I come to check for POV shifts I find it easier to see 'lapses'. As for the other inconsistencies and repetitions etc it's still hard slog for me ...but it will improve I'm sure.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy,

I never thought of using a different color font for each character. Good idea.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Calisa Rhose said... Best Blogger Tips

Very good advice, Karen. Thanks!

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

You're welcome, Calisa. Thanks for coming by. :)