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.