Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Editing Tips

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Today I'm going to be giving you some editing tips and telling you how to catch those niggling little errors that drive readers like me bananas.

If you're a regular visitor to my blog, you'll know I keep a handy link list to relevant content herein. This is for you, not for me. It lets you find what you're looking for at a glance without having to do an irritating search or browse through hundreds of posts to find great information. This post will contain links to a few of those posts for your referencing pleasure. A lot of my visitors take notes while they're here, and you might want to consider doing so as well. So, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

If you're a writer, you should be going through no less than four rounds of edits before sending your content off to your editor. What's that? You don't use an editor? You should. They'll catch things you can't. But, if you insist on doing all your editing yourself, here are the five major edits that need to be done in your work:

1. Storyline - This is the first edit and should consist of you going through the storyline very carefully, line by line, making notes on what your characters are doing at any given point. You don't want an apartment on the first floor in this chapter only to have it on the second floor two chapters later, or your character to be asleep in bed and then having a conversation on the other side of town in the next sentence. Check dates for linear flow. Fact check now as well. Make sure elements and language used match the era and voice of the character. Make all your notes before you change anything. If there's anything to add or any holes to fill, do it now.

2. Cut Out Superfluous Words - Go through your manuscript with a possessed red pen. Kill as many of these words as you can: that, just, for, to, began, thought, as. Reword where necessary. Take out sentences and adjectives you don't need. Remove adverbs. This post will show you why you don't need them: -ly

3. Pronouns - This is a big one. Check each pronoun and the person or thing it references. Make sure you aren't using them incorrectly. Here's a handy guide: Pesky Pronouns

4. Consistency and Punctuation - This is where you check your flow. Make sure commas aren't sprinkled around like fairy dust. Be sure your sentences flow well. Read and re-read to be sure you've been consistent when spelling a word, using language, or using a reference. Check your chapters for tension. For the love of all that's good, use contractions unless writing formal speech. Chase the S! Search the words backward, forward, toward, etc... and check to be sure the s (if you used it) is consistent. Beware the homophone and make sue you're using the right word. Use semicolons now and then. If you aren't sure how to do that, check out this handy guide: Semicolons

5. Proofread - Give it one last once over. Check it all to make sure there aren't any of the issues listed above hanging around and everything is spelled correctly, all quotes are in place and are the right kind (see image below), and all i's are dotted and t's are crossed. This is your last chance to make it beautiful.

I use a literary editor. Every writer should. She goes line by line and checks everything. But every writer should also go through the first four items on this list before sending their manuscript off to be corrected. Your best bet is to let your story chill in a drawer for a couple of weeks after you're done writing it before you start the process above.

I hope this helps in some small way. I know being an indie author isn't easy, but if you want your work to get great reviews that don't bash your writing, put in the time.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!

Jo

7 comments:

  1. Great tips! Very helpful too! I'm using a new editor that I've never worked with before and I'm going to keep these things in mind.

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    1. Thanks, Heather! It's always good to know what your editor should be looking for :)

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  2. Great but will an editor help sell your work? It is a chunk out of your profits to pay an editor and most hopeful writers have not the cash to pay out.Yeah when six books have paid or that one best seller you can and should have an editor or better still a publisher editor and not the e book sales where you have to drive work hourly to score. Just be your own judge and take in all tips is the best advice to give out.

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    1. IBGW does. We promote our authors heavily. You're right, it's a chunk out of your profits up front, but one badly written book and you won't have readers anyway. Publishing fifteen books will never make you money if no one buys them. Readers are pickier these days than they ever have been. Even editors who write use editors before publishing. You can lead a horse to water... Thanks for the comment!

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  3. This is just as important for non-fiction books? If it's been proofread by educated, well-written people with 'possessed red pens' who are also in the potential audience for the book, is that enough? I think I know what you're answer will be, but just in case...

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