Thursday, May 23, 2013

Self-Editing Tips and Tricks: How to Make Sure Not to Lose Your Mind

It's that time again. A manuscript is finished. You want to send it to your betas.

Yup, you guessed it.

Editing time.

I'm one of those weird people who really likes editing...when it's someone else's works. When it's my own? Not so much. So what's a girl to do?

Read it out loud.
Want to make this fun and extra useful? Grab a couple of friends and make a drama out of it. Hearing how someone else would put inflection on your words can be very helpful. You could make a party out it - props and all. (Or make it a drinking game, but don't expect your late edits to be entirely helpful.)

If you're reading it yourself, note where you put extra emphasis - hint: extra emphasis could mean that your words aren't creating the impact you're striving for.

Read it on your Kindle. 
I recently tested the formatting functions of Scrivener, and I swear I heard angels singing. Within mere minutes of finishing my manuscript, it was loaded up on my Kindle to look at. I then send it to my phone - because seriously, reading it in different ways lets you see your manuscript through another set of eyes.

Have the computer read it to you.
Eliza mentioned this once before, and it's really useful. You won't get any ideas of tone and inflection, but you'll hear any awkward phrasings. I tend to phrase things backwards (yes, I talk that way too) and hearing it helps me know when something sounds funny.

Print it on paper.
This is the classic standby. Reading something on paper allows you to see it differently than reading it on the computer. Get the faithful red pen out and you're good to go. Maybe even try different pen colors - each color meaning a different thing. It's just like color coding your notes in high school. (I wasn't the only one who did that, right?) Your brain will learn to associate that color with a style.

Make several passes through.
Too much to do all at once? Focus on one thing each time. Maybe your first read through is focusing on story flow and plot holes. The second read can be looking for tense or grammar issues. The third could be looking for details like scenery. Break it down to make it easier to work with.

Think it's ready for your betas?
Send it to one beta first. Note their edits and make changes before sending to the entire crowd!

Need even more tips? Jolene linked to some great articles offering their own advice!

What are your own editing tricks and tips?


  1. Oh how timely! I just wrote a blog inquiring about this same topic over at my little nut-tree. Thanks for the tips! At this point, the drinking drama sounds like a blast!
    ~Just Jill

    1. Fun is an important part of the writing and editing process!

  2. Good advice! Reading on Kindle is the one for me. It makes me feel like I'm actually reading a *real* book - & it keeps me from the temptation to fiddle around w/things as I go.

    1. I tend to highlight errors in all books I read on my Kindle, so my eyes are already trained to look for mistakes. It does feel entirely different than reading a manuscript, doesn't it?

  3. Great tips - thanks!

  4. Wonderful ideas. I never thought of having the computer read it to me. Thanks for so much help Kristen, you are truly amazing.