You’ve gone to the trouble of pouring your heart and soul into your characters, agonized over plot points, settings, and descriptions. You’ve rewritten and revised until words are little more than a blur on the paper or computer screen. Your story is finished. Finally.
But is it really?
Writers write. They are often too close to their story and their characters to be able to look at their writing objectively. Some hate the editing process and rush through it. Some think critique partners and beta readers will catch any major gaffes. No matter what your feelings are toward the editing process, it is not something that can be ignored. In the end, good editing can mean better sales and more readers, now and in the future.
While becoming your own editor will not have the same results as hiring a professional editor, there are things you can do to better prepare your manuscript, whether you are submitting to agents and houses, or self-publishing your story yourself.
First, once you complete a story, put it aside for a week or two. Work on something else, take a vacation, finish a project you have lying around. Catch up on your reading. Do anything else but work on—or think about—that story.
Second, when you finally take the story back out, print out a copy. You might want to keep a set of highlighters and colored pens next to you.
Once you have a printed version of your manuscript and color pens and highlighters, you will want to read through your manuscript. It might take multiple readings to finish. You’ll want to read for things such as missing or incomplete information, too much information, character GMCs and arcs, whether or not dialogue is moving the story forward, if the description/setting is pertinent to the scene, things like that.
Make notes in the margin for scenes to be deleted, rewritten, or added. Highlight for one character having too much dialogue and not enough internal thought. Add more notes for settings and descriptions. Are they clear? Do they further the character or the plot? Finally, make notes for repetitive phrasing, overused words, and passive verbs.
When you have finished reading and making your notes, make the necessary changes to the manuscript. Then print off a clean copy and repeat the process until you no longer find any issues. Then, and only then, is it ready to go to a critique partner or beta reader.
If you are interested in learning more about editing your own work or the process in which I use, consider taking my month-long class: Editing Intensive with Greta Gunselman. We will be going through each editing stage, and I’ll be there to help you edit your work every step of the way.
On the June 20th, Greta’s workshop: Editing Intensive starts.
For more information, check it out here.
[box type=”bio”] Greta Gunselman has been editing for over five years. She worked at MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. as a line editor and in December of 2014 made the move to Entangled Publishing LLC to work as an intern under Candace Havens. In April 2015, she became an Editorial Assistant and now works under Karen Grove. Because Greta loves to help authors realize their publishing dreams, she also works with authors as a freelance editor. If you’d like to contact Greta, she can be reached on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/editorgreta or you can PM her on Savvy Authors.