Edit. Edit Again. And Again!–Monday Meanderings

It seemed to take “forever” but, finally, the proof of  The Sin of His Father arrived. As I plunge into yet another edit, I’d like to share a few suggestions to help in the editing process.

Though these apply, for the most part, to prose fiction, I hope there may be some suggestions for those of you writing in other genres.

Set your manuscript aside for a while (weeks or months) before revision. The distance will give you better perspective when you return to what you have written.

Look for echos–that is to say unintentional repetition of words or phrases. Sadness hung in the air like dense fog. I could see that she was sad, is an example of an echo.

Read your writing aloud to yourself and/or another. This process promotes the discovery of grammatical, syntactical and spelling errors.

If you choose to change point of view within the text, make sure that you have provided the reader with a clear distinction between characters. Use spaces or chapter changes to shift point of view. Or use an omniciscent narrator.

Lose adjectives or adverbs whenever an active verb or noun achieves your goal. Consider the following two sentences that deliver the same message:

She felt very afraid.

Fear crept in and overwhelmed her–her breathing quickened.

Which do you think better engages the reader’s emotions?

This next  suggestion may surprise you: reread your manuscript in its entirety (chapter-by-chapter or scene by scene for short fiction) but start at the END. This technique enables you to identify unresolved story lines, chronology issues and other inconsistencies. When I applied backwards review to Winter is Past I found that I had changed the name of a secondary character somewhere along the line–the kind of thing that happens when you’ve worked on your novel over a longer period of time.

While doing your backward review, double-check to make sure that every scene has a goal and propels the plot forward.

These are but a few of the things I look for. I hope these are helpful to those of you who face the daunting task of making it better. 

Image: Jackson Paul Baer

Image: Jackson Paul Baer

Have a good week–whichever stage of the writing process you’re working!

4 thoughts on “Edit. Edit Again. And Again!–Monday Meanderings

  1. Great suggestions and congrats on another book!

    Just another tip to keep in the back of your mind for the next book…There is a free program online called Auto Crit. It finds those overused words and adverbs. It really helps you to tighten your sentences. There are upgrades that cost money, but, for most writers, the free version is all that’s necessary. I used it for my novel and loved it!


  2. rmp says:

    I agree that letting it sit for awhile to create distance is definitely helpful. the backwards read sounds quite interesting…


  3. Thie post should be mandatory reading for all creative writing students! A lot of this was contained in the courses I did, but not all in one place.
    Your piece is succinct and thorough.


  4. brian miller says:

    have heard many of these before….the reading aloud is a very good idea…i do that with my poetry but also my short story work….it helps you catch the echoes and lets you hear how it sounds when read….

    yay, glad you got it back…


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