Things I Found Useful When Editing

DSCF0115 SmallSeriously 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.

Take Notes

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.

Skim Read

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.

Read Aloud

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.

Revisiting Editing

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I thought this topic was worth revisiting simply because I underestimated its importance, and have been quite astonished about how much one can learn. My background lies in poetry, writing as a past time and for enjoyment. Whereas a poem may be 1-3 pages including carefully thought out syllables, rhymes, and the meaning of words. A novel can easily gather more than 200 pages. Poetry was the choice of writing for a good 10 years before pondering the idea of something so much longer.

Where to Start

It is rather sobering (and I don’t drink) to think that this all began with a failed attempt to invent my own language. What a way to begin a novel? I had often had the sort of dreams that can be remembered upon waking, and devoted a great deal of time to immersing myself in reading a wonderfully thick fantasy novel. Still there was no glimmer of the work involved, just the growing spark of a small dream that gathered ground wanting to be noticed. Slowly the poetry waned as my mind filled with the tune of a different story, and even before the first page was written the world building began along with a few false starts.

After the First Draft

I must admit, the thought of what happened after the first draft had not really entered my head. All the focus remained on the story, and I had completely forgotten the next stage. The project remained an idea, a dream that one day, way into the distant future I would publish the novel. Then life got in the way as it always does. The very last words of my first novel were written at a time when no doctor could tell me how long I had to live. I am pleased to say that I made it past that stage with help from family and friends, but that moment will forever be captured in the ending.


In case you have not guessed editing is about support, do not attempt it alone. Sift through the advice and find out what works best for you. Above all the best advice I can give is hand the story over for someone else to edit at the end, before that do as much editing as possible because this is a great way to learn.


DSCF0106bEditing, that wonderful process that seems to get longer with more experience. It is like jumping over a never ending row of hurdles, where just when you think you have mastered it, you run head long into the next obstacle. This is by no means a bad experience it just means that I can see my work in more depth.


If I were to describe the process it would be like sifting through a multitude of layers, where some are only skin deep, and others lie far below the surface. When I first started I was focusing on the issues that were only skin deep, barely skimming the surface as I went. Now when I sit down to work through the process I can only describe it as one of the most boring things I have ever done. I find that the shallow issues are less, and the other layers have become more prominent. Hiding just below the surface waiting for someone to find them, and when I do, I wonder how I could have missed them before.


Yet this whole process takes practice, and I am not referring to the simple effort of doing several rounds of editing on the one story. When I first started I felt as though I knew so much, after all I had done a great deal of research. What I did not know is that the bar is a moving beast, at every level it challenges me as though taunting from the side lines. Waiting to see how far I have progressed.


The most important elements of learning how to edit are time, and patience. I feel as though I have run a marathon, only to find that when I look back I see with great clarity what I missed. Perhaps this is a good thing, I will take a deep breath, and let out all the frustration so I can see it that way. When I first started it was like opening a door to a magical world of writing. Now that I have made my way along the path it feels incredible being able to look back, and wonder in amazement at how determined I was to be where I am.

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