Hey guys! This one is for all of you writers out there. I've been following along and participating in IndieReCon. I saw this article about self-editing and I HAD to share it. It is written by Jessica Bell and the original can be found here. This is one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten thus far at the conference. Enjoy!
How to Self-Edit your Book: Jessica Bell
It’s time to edit your novel for publication. What a drag, right? It doesn’t have to be.
If you take a systematic approach, you can make sure you catch as many mistakes and writing pitfalls as possible without feeling overwhelmed by it all. I’ve been an editor for more than ten years, and there is the one rule I live by which gets excellent results every time: edit piece by piece.
Sound ambiguous? Let me explain.
The Editing ProcessWhen we read a manuscript from beginning to end, we aren’t able to concentrate on every detail at once.
For example, let’s say you’ve read through the first chapter of your manuscript and the only error you notice is the word cafe lacking the accent on the e. Easy. You fix it. And you make a mental note to catch that as you go along.
But in the next chapter, you come across an awkwardly structured sentence, an embarrassing grammatical error, a character that is speaking in a way that sounds like another character, and you seem to have used the word look way too many times in one paragraph.
That’s a lot to fix. But you do it fix it, and all seems like it’s in order.
But guess what? You were so focussed on fixing these things, that you didn’t notice the other instance of cafe lacking the accent on the e. And now that you’ve reworded a few things, you’ve also messed up your punctuation, and introduced a new spelling mistake.
It isn’t necessary to have the “whoops.”
When editing, you can’t expect to do a good job if you read through your book from beginning to end and hope to see the mistakes as you go. You are bound to miss things. Many things.
The Most Efficient Way to Self-EditThe most efficient way to edit, is to isolate all the things you need to fix, and focus on fixing one thing on your list, before moving onto the next. (I’ll provide you a comprehensive list further on in this article.)
For example, you could start with your first line hook. Is it compelling enough? Then move onto character consistency and point of view switches. Are your characters distinguishable from each other? Focus on one character at a time and making their voices unique.
Then go on to wheedle out redundant dialogue tags and/or replace them with action, tighten your descriptions, make your chapter endings pop, remove superfluous and overused words, vary sentence structure so you don’t use too many personal pronouns, check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Then, move on to reading your manuscript from beginning to end.
Even better, read it aloud, or use a text-to-voice generator.
Editing doesn’t have to be daunting if you focus on one thing at a time. And once you’re done, your book will shine.
Here’s a compressive checklist for you to make sure your book is in tiptop shape:
Things you should have already mastered before diving into the final edit are:
PLOT & PACING
So what steps do you need to take to polish your manuscript for publication?
I’m going to make it very easy for you. Below is a list of the points you need to focus on (I go into greater detail for each point in Polish Your Fiction, which you have the chance to win today). I have listed them in the order Ifeel comfortable doing them. You may want to do them in a different order, and that’s okay. But I definitely do not suggest you polish style before you are satisfied with your content, because you never know how much text you are going to change. You might well end up changing so much content that you have to double-check you haven’t messed up any of your style corrections. It would just be a waste of time.
Here are the things you need to polish to get your book ready for publication:
*Remember: This is not written by Taylor Lavati. This is reposted from IndieReCon and done by Jessica Bell.