After a particularly helpful comment on last week’s masterclass, I decided to take their advice and write another post on the editing process.
To edit is to prepare a written piece for publication by means of condensing or correction but how do we action these in real life?
I’ve put a few editing checklist points below but obviously these are just rough guides and is by no means a complete list.
Obviously, the best way to check spelling mistakes is to carefully read through the entirety of your story, ensuring that you’ve used not only the correct spelling but the correct word. I read somewhere that the best way to spot mistakes is to change the font or the layout to something completely different as your eye will spot mistakes more easily when you’re tricking it to look at your work as if it’s a completely new piece.
I use Grammarly for this as a quick guide.
Are you making sure that you are using commas correctly? Does your sentence run on a bit too long without pause or break? Does your dialogue start on a new line to make it clear and defined for readers to understand?
Does your plot have a beginning, middle, and end without a gaping plot hole? I once wrote a piece that had my characters appearing somewhere completely different from the last scene but there had been no possible way that they could have ended up there in the space I had allowed in the storyline. I made sure that there was time for this change of scenery but I could have just as easily changed the setting to suit.
You can also condense your piece, in fact, this is probably a good idea (no one likes a waffler) and the best way I’ve found to do this is to cut out any unnecessary sentences and words. Your condensing should mean that when you re-read your manuscript it should flow better while keeping with your voice or style.
On the thought of cutting out redundant sections of our writing, I’d also like to suggest removing any scenes that don’t offer either plot progression or character development. Look at each scene with a fresh pair of eyes and ask yourself why it is there? If you don’t have a good answer then is it really worth including it in your piece? It’s worth noting that you don’t have to delete your hard work, just remove it from your novel. You could keep your removed pieces for another day, as inspiration for another work or dedicate a blog for background information on your characters as a sort of fan service.
I hope this article has offered an insight into my editing style and inspired your own methods. What are your editing tips for other aspiring writers? What one inspiring statement about writing would you tell your younger self if you were given the chance?