Writing is easy, Editing is hard.
Or so goes the standard writer’s complaint. Putting words to paper is just a matter of time and motivation. But rewriting or editing your work into a publishable piece?
Well that is just tough…
So how can you edit in an effective manner? Follow these steps:
Slowly and Carefully reread the entire piece from front to back. If something sounds awkward or icky…rewrite it. This will take a LONG time if done right. When you start skimming, stop for the day, and come back later. Skimping out on this will hurt your story.
2. Auto Crit and/or Spell Check!
In Word, there is a “formal” option on spellchecker, which finds all kinds of writing errors or weaknesses. Passive Voice, Wordiness, etc…RUN IT and consider every single thing it points out. Not all of them will be Right, so don’t just assume. But it will help you identify problem areas.
Auto Crit is another option. http://www.autocrit.com/
They have a free trial version that allows some feedback, but the paid one is better. This will point out overused words and phrases as well as homonyms, and other discouraged areas such as too many adverbs. Honestly, IMHO, worth the investment. Again it is often wrong, but all the areas identified should all be addressed.
3. Identify problem areas and overused words.
These can be identified with AutoCrit or critique comments. Make a list!
Use the word “clearly” 10 times in one page? Odds are you did it in the rest of the book too! Find and replace these “filler” words to eliminate them, or use find and adjust them manually.
4. Outsource it!
Have a trusted critique partner reread it for “structural” issues. They may see something you do not!
5. READ IT AGAIN!
After all of these things have been done, start over and reread. Look for any issues that were caused by the editing process, or things that were missed. I can’t tell you how many times I have read a book where a sentence was revised to death…
i.e. I was thinking thought things had changed.
The new version is blended right into the original so that neither makes sense.
6. Auto Crit and/or Spell Check AGAIN!
Did a rewrite result in a misspelling or other new problem. Go through this process once more!
7. READ IT ONE MORE TIME! YEAH I’M SERIOUS!
This is your proofreading run through. No additional edits here, just the oops patrol. Say peak instead of peek, miss another mistype, or just use the wrong word. Catch it here.
Followed religiously these simple steps can and will make your book better!