Alright, the holidays are over, NaNoWriMo is well behind us, and any projects we worked on last year are (hopefully) coming to an end. Now it’s time to edit. That seems simple, right? For some, it is. For others, editing is the hardest part of writing. This is to help those that aren’t sure what they’re doing. As always, this isn’t fool proof, and it definitely isn’t the only way to do things. These are just some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Step One – Put it Away
I know that sounds strange, but do it anyways. Put your project away. Lock it in a sealed envelope, secure folder, or ship it to Singapore. I don’t care what you do, but for about a month, set that puppy on ice and don’t think about it. The object is to forget everything you’ve written. That way when you do pull it back out and dust off the cover, you’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes.
Step Two – Trim the Fat
Here is when you’ll start reading it over. At this point, you’re keeping a critical eye on things like unnecessary descriptions, padded word count, plot holes, and any loose ends that need to be either tied or removed. If you see grammatical and spelling errors, go ahead and fix them, but that isn’t the priority right now. Our focus is to trim the fat, add the dressing, and hash out all those final details that you’ve left floating around.
Step Three – Another Break
Not as long as before, but give it a couple days. Focus on outlining your next project. Spend a couple days out on the town. Organize the broom closet. I don’t care what you do, but let your story marinate for a little while. This is giving yourself time to digest all the changes you made.
Step Four – Another Read Through
Yep, we’re reading it over again. This time, you’re doing minor tweaks and changes. You’re focusing on cleaning things up, honing the final details, correcting any mistakes that you may have missed before. Move those commas. Correct your semi colons. Make sure to add that period.
Step Five – Optional Third Read Through
You may want to read through your story one more time. Read out loud this time. You’ll catch more mistakes when you actually hear what you’ve written. Use this time to focus on the small mistakes you may have missed, focusing heavily on grammatical structure and misspelled words.
Step Six – Beta reader
Here is where you give it to someone else. Hire an editor. Ask a friend. Join a beta group and see if someone will look over it for you. Turn your story over to someone else and let them do the editing for you. They will be able to catch things you’ve missed.
Note: Remember to always be grateful and courteous to your beta readers/editors. You don’t have to necessarily do what they suggest, but you should always thank them for their time.
At this point, your editor will begin doing the same steps. They’ll send it back for you to look over, and you may go through a few rounds with them before your story is ready to start submitting or publishing.
Not sure where to find an editor? Send me a message. I know a couple people. Try also looking up beta groups. Usually you have to offer to read someone else’s work as well, but they’ll look over your own.