Editing is hard work
Editing your own writing is a huge undertaking. It’s difficult to edit your own work, so you need to be vigilant. You also have to take into consideration things such as when you edit and who you get to assist you. Identify crutch words, pay attention to technical aspects, and you’ll be left with a polished masterpiece. Well, a polished draft anyway! Check out these top tips:
1) Have your draft read to you
It’s much easier to detect errors when you hear your work read aloud. There are two options: have someone read it to you or have a computer program read it to you. Most people choose the latter, as it tends to be much less frustrating. Going the computer route will be different depending on if you use a Mac or a PC, instructions for both operating systems can be found here. MORE: 5 Questions To Help You Edit Your Own Work
2) Come back to it later
You might be tempted to get right down to editing soon after finishing your novel or screenplay. Don’t do it! You want to give the manuscript a rest before coming back to it; the longer, the better. Stephen King gives his draft six weeks in a drawer before he begins his editing process. The reason for this practice is that you want to be as objective and unemotional as possible when you edit. You want to forget a lot of what you wrote and feel as if you are editing someone else’s work. MORE: Top 10 Killer Words That Make Readers Switch Off
3) Watch out for crutch words
You would be surprised at how dependant you are on certain words. It’s important that you identify the words that you use too frequently and change them or your work will suffer tremendously. You don’t want to flip through your draft counting words, so use a program such as Scrivener to do the job for you, it’s compatible with both Mac and PC. MORE: Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD
4) Get technical
Now it’s time for the oh so glamorous parts of the editing process. We’re talking about punctuation and formatting. While this part might be tedious and not so fun, it’s crucial that you clean this stuff up. Unless you want to look like a total amateur?
So, watch out for your commas, because most people tend to use them too often. Semicolons are another tricky one for many people, so watch how you use them. When it comes to formatting, keep in mind that you should format in a way that makes it easy for your editor to read it. Make it double-spaced, a Word document, and in black type on white, with 12-point Times New Roman font. MORE: 10 Common Errors You Need To Fix In Your Writing Right Now
5) Content tips and tricks
Let’s get into some ways to improve the flow of your actual content. Eliminate needless words. You’d be amazed at how many times the word ‘that’ is used unnecessarily. Use the normal word rather than giving in to the temptation to show off your big vocabulary. Your point can easily get lost along the way when you’re too concerned about how many syllables are contained in your word. Don’t sacrifice clarity for anything. Never use the word literallywhen you mean figuratively; it just looks bad. Avoid cliches if at all possible. We really don’t need another literary scene in which two future lovers literally bump into each other. Most importantly, learn to accept constructive criticism. As a writer you need to be your toughest critic, so work on thickening that skin. MORE: What Script Editors Do (Case Study)
6) Editing and proofreading resources
There are a lot of proofreading and editing resources available online, some much better than others. You’ve got enough on your mind when you’re trying to edit your own book, so we’ve compiled some really solid resources here to help you in your process:
1. State Of Writing and Grammar Checker are useful grammar guides that will make your editing process easier.
2. Via Writing and SimpleGrad are good writing resources for anyone writing and editing their own work.
3. Cite It In, OnlineWordcounter and Easy Word Count are good tools to help you use citations properly and make sure your word count is correct.
4. My Writing Way and AcademAdvisor are useful writing blogs, where you can find advice from people undertaking similar projects.
Editing is finally done!
Editing your own writing involves a lot of different steps and considerations. Be sure that you are far enough removed from the writing process so that you can be objective as you edit. Don’t rush the technical parts, boring and tedious though they may be, or your work will suffer. Be sure to take into consideration our content tips and tricks, and take advantage of some great resources mentioned above. Follow all the steps in the self-editing process and your book will turn out a technical and literary masterpiece you can be proud of.
BIO: Grace Carter is a writer at Essayroo and UKWritings