Ten editing tips

…which helped me transform my writing.

Two manuscripts, one nanowrimo and one Faber Academy writing course later, and this is my tried and tested editing checklist. Some people say it’s all in the edit. I’d say, not quite, but I like to think of a creative writing project as a statue which starts off rough and needs to be hewn into intricate detail.

My top 10 manuscript edits:

  1. Play adverb bingo – get them all out. Once they are gone, I see how to strengthen the lone verbs which are left
  2. Get rid of all repetition (ALL!)
  3. Ensure all scenes are consistent with their point of view (ie written in the voice of the character – go forwards and backwards in the manuscript to ensure the character sounds the same throughout
  4. Repeat #3 for speech
  5. Get someone else to read it (no matter how cringeworthy). It’s amazing how the threat of this focuses the brain
  6. Look at the physical shape of the language in the page – is there too much speech or long passages if prose? What does the average sentence length look like? Is it varied. Is there a good balance between action, dialogue and description?
  7. Basics – spellcheck, grammar check
  8. Print off and edit. Send to Kindle (or other electronic device) and edit
  9. Check synopsis still matches up with what you’ve written – if not, why not. Is the story changing or have you written in scenes which don’t really belong there?
  10. Read it out loud

3 comments on “Ten editing tips

  1. I have found the most helpful thing I could ever do is read my script out loud!!! It really shows me where there are hang ups and things that just doesn’t flow right. Without a pleasant flow, no one wants to read it…

    • Yes I agree! Reading out loud is very helpful and throws up all kinds of issues. It also helps check if your text flows nicely or if it is clunky and inelegant.

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