Welcome back. Today’s blog is brief but essential. It is an introduction to my 10-Step Plan for Self-editing. We will continue to talk about the issues raised here in my August post. So let’s get on with it
Never do your self-editing all at once. As you begin the rewriting process, you also start the editing process. This is the art and the heart of it, this is when you begin to build castles, and the rewrites, you can share with your writing group or your initial reader. A poorly edited manuscript is certain death for any legitimate agent or publisher. And it is one of the things within your control along the journey to publication. Learning how to edit your own manuscript will not only reduce costs but will improve your skill as a writer. Do it.
- Review the opening and closing lines for each scene. Why did you stop the scene with that line? Why did you start the new scene with that line? Always asking, “Why do I (the reader) want to go on?”
- Eliminate (unless included for a good reason) passive voice.
- Get out of the way of the action. For example, don’t say – “Angelo, felt his stomach drop as he realized he left his knife at home.” Instead, say, “Angelo’s stomach dropped. His knife was home.”
- Review for story and plot– does it hold together? Does this scene move the story along?
- Make a list of the promises you have made and the foreshadowing and edit to ensure that you have kept your promises and fulfilled the foreshadowing.
- Edit for repetition. Repeated statements, descriptions, and words. Search for your most often used words.
- Eliminate as many adverbs (especially “very”) as possible.
- Do a surgical edit. Reduce the word count. Don’t kill your darlings, but do imprison them in another file on your computer or folder.
- Have someone (or the computer) read your story out loud.
- Finally, and only if you’re like me, consider a final professional line edit. I can’t do that myself, I tend to read past mistakes, but maybe you can.
Thanks for being here and stay brilliant, healthy and hopeful, Nick