Quick Notes – How to Edit Your Own Work

Here are some notes most generously copied for me by the talented Laura N. Stephenson. I met her at ConDor in San Diego and we swapped panel notes.  Conventions are a great place to make friends, learn from pros and strut your stuff. For more on convention prep, check out this post.

  • Writer’s ticks – Words/phrases you overuse.
  • Read it aloud – ear will pick out mistakes the eye glosses over.
  • Read your sentences backwards to prevent brain glossing over mistakes (Sentence 3, sentence 2, sentence 1)
  • Don’t edit before the manuscript is done.
  • If a section is terrible, rewrite rather than edit.
  • Put cut material in separate document to look at after the manuscript is over and judge if its worth putting in somewhere else.
  • Read one character’s dialogue at a time to be sure they’re consistent with themselves and different from each other.
  • Make sure sentences don’t go longer than two lines.
  • Gail Carriger writes 2k words/day
  • Write a mark in the manuscript for where you need research, whether into your own work or to fact check.
  • Don’t use too much or too little stage direction.
  • Act stage directions out.
  • Scrivener is a useful tool (K. M. Alexander swears by it)
  • Too short? Ad another POV character.
  • Before making a major edit, back up current version.

My own two cents, on top of these tips, is to make sure you do all your spell-checking and re-reading BEFORE you hand your work off to a beta reader or editor. Let them help you with the things you miss; not the problems you ignore.

“The great artist is the simplifier.”
— Henri-Frédéric Amiel

“A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
— George S. Patton Jr.

spiral-scribble

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