I am taking a break from editing my current novel to think about the process. I have tried most things, from handing over the manuscript to a professional editor to doing it all myself. Self-editing can spark new ideas, develop your characters and improve your writing style. There is also professional pride in making sure your work is as good as it can be before anyone else reads it. Here are a few ideas that work for me, which you may like to consider:
Take a break
Just as I am doing now, it can really help to stand back from your work for a few days. This doesn’t mean stopping writing. Just like playing an instrument, you need to practice every day, so write or re-write your cover blurb. Write a blog post. Start the outline of your next book. When you return to your manuscript you may be just a little bit more objective.
Print it out
I hardly ever print out my work, so it is a surprise the first time I see it as a paper book. This is a big mistake, of course. Print out a chapter at a time and go through it with a red pen, looking for unconvincing dialogue, repetition, clichés and all the other things you need to sort out. I also have a CreateSpace Word template that formats the manuscript for proofing before printing as a paperback.
Read it aloud
I would be useless at making an audiobook as I don’t like reading aloud. It is a great way to get a feel for the rhythm and structure of your writing, though. Try reading some of your dialogue aloud and see how it sounds.
Find a ‘beta reader'
I have seen advice that you should never ask your partner to read your unedited work. I suppose it depends on a lot of factors, such as the spirit they approach it in, how much time they have and even the relationship you have with them. My wife will patiently read and re-read draft chapters, pointing out things I need to look at. We have a rule that I never argue or get defensive about it, as I have to accept if something looks wrong to her, it probably will to others.
Experiment with writing tools
The standard spelling and grammar checker in Word will let you down. Take a look at some of the add-ons that have a little more intelligence. One of my current favourites is ‘Pro Writing Aid’ see http://prowritingaid.com/en/Analysis/Editor which can challenge even the most confident writer!
I will leave the final word to one of my favourite writers:
“To write is human, to edit is divine.” ― Stephen King, OnWriting
What are your top editing tips? Please feel free to share.