Aloha everyone! We’re at it again.
Let’s continue with the AtoZ Challenge. Yesterday was your invitation to join this journey. So let’s truly begin. Today’s I’m talking about editing basics. Some of you are like me and are working on your editing skills. Trying to beat your tame the crazy beast of a first draft. I’m not a huge fan of editing, but I’m trying to cultivate an appreciation for it. Unedited pieces aren’t as fun for the reader. Mistakes are distracting and take away from your story. Editing can be a hard activity to pin down. The first way to begin this revisioning journey is to get down to basics. Here are some tips that I’m using for my manuscript that I hope you’ll find helpful.
Tip 1: Step Back
Set your story aside. Depending on how much time you have available it may be a few months or a few hours. Give yourself that break so you can see it with “fresh” eyes.
Tip 2: Read all about it
Read it all in one go without any real editing. If you print out your manuscript, make notes in the margins and circle things that don’t appear to make sense. If you’re looking at it on a screen, make notes in your manuscript using a different font color and size so when you’re going back over it, you’ll know this was a problem area. If at all possible, try reading it out loud or using a program like Natural Reader to read it for you. Is there a word or phrase that you use often that doesn’t advance your story that is kind of a crutch for you? (See what I did there?) Are there things you’ve repeated? Have you said some things the same way? Do you accidentally duplicate the same info? (You get it.) After you’ve read it once through while taking your marginal notes, get ready to dive into the bigger aspects of the edits.
Tip 3: Plot it out
Does your story have a beginning, middle, and an end? Is there an inciting incident that’s kick starting your main character’s actions? Is there conflict? A resolution? These are building blocks for a successful story. If you’re missing these aspects of a story, you may want to reconsider your story. Your readers may not know what the elements are called, but they’ll realize something is missing.
Tip 4: Yaaaaawn…
Are there points in the story that drag along and feel kind of boring? If it’s boring to you, it will bore the reader. Do you need those bits? If so, how can you make it more interesting? Are you doing a lot more telling than showing? Are you going overboard with your description? Is the dialog Punch up the interest level.
Tip 5: Make sentences more gooder
Time to edit for grammar and punctuation. Check out your sentence structure. Is everything written in passive voice? Do you find there’s a word that you use often that doesn’t help things? Grammar Girl is a great site with tons of tips and tricks to help you improve your grammar. I have a copy of The Elements of Style on my desk as well, because sometimes I can’t trust myself with the internet.
You’ll want to take a bit of a break and read it again. At some point, you’ll have to decide when you want beta readers to have a go at it, editors, proofreaders, etc. But those are all conversations for another time. For now, I wanted to give you a few tips to get you going. Just the basics. Let me know down in the comments, what are some editing tips that you’d like to share? Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow with the letter C.