Seriously I really found these useful when editing. There is no escaping the boring nature of the task however it helps to break editing down into smaller sections. At all times remember this process is just as important as the first draft, and it may take longer than you think.
Change the Font
My mind is so used to reading in ‘Times New Roman’ that when I changed the font it felt like I was editing someone else’s work. Well not quite, but it certainly made a difference. I went further and changed the text colour just to reduce the familiarity with the writing. This is the time to look for large chunks or paragraphs that really do not work because they will stand out.
Removing Unnecessary Words
Do not fall in love with your writing to the point where you cannot let go of that favourite sentence you always dreamed of. If it does not work with the scene or move the story forward, I’m sorry but it has to go (I nearly cried over this one). I saved each stage of editing so I could always go back if need be. Only once did I need to rely on an earlier version, after that I did not look back. Remember you need the scene to work and run smoothly, that is your goal.
While you are getting the hang of ditching the awkward writing in your scene and wondering why on earth you wrote that in the first place, it is a good idea to take notes. Every section that makes you think ‘I need to go back and fix that’ or ‘I love that but it was too short’, make sure to compile a list to return to. Now is not the time to be nervous because after having finished the first draft your aims and direction for the novel will have a renewed clarity. Use this to your advantage to give the story strength.
Re-build the Story
When going through the manuscript it is important to identify what worked, and the scenes that can enhance the story. When rushing through the first draft it is all about getting the ideas down which can lead to a scene that needed to be explored over several pages starting out as one paragraph. Sometimes these scenes will not stand out until the stale sections have been removed.
If your pace slows when you are skim reading, there may be something holding up the flow in the story. Now is a great time to tidy up those loose ends. They are there, and you will be surprised how many there are. If you need to change details and make sure there are no inconsistencies like a character’s scar or hair colour this the time to sort it out.
There are some things that just need to be done, reading your story aloud can help with punctuation and formatting. It is a great way to find those hidden anomalies in your writing that can easily be missed.
Ask Someone to Edit the Story
This is where a fresh set of eyes can really add so much. There are many different ideas about when is the best time to ask another person to provide feedback or editing services. The best advice I can give is to ask someone else to edit your story. You do not have to accept the changes, but the feedback does help immensely.
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