How to be a Better Self-Editor

I actually got this advice from a Writer’s Digest article many, many moons ago, and I always suggest this method to authors who ask me to edit their manuscripts. If you want to be a serious writer, you should follow a process like this BEFORE you submit query letters, seek out an editor, or publish your work in any shape or form.

Draft 1 – Just puke your ideas onto the page.

Draft 2 – Reread your manuscript on the computer where you wrote it and look for plot holes and non essential information.

Draft 3 – Print it out. Grab a red pen and CUT, CUT, CUT. Rewrite.

Draft 4 – Read it out loud and listen for flow and check for missing words, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. I actually write in Scrivener which has a speak function. Your novel sounds like Stephen Hawking, but there is no better way to make sure your delivery is smooth than hearing it with your ears. With particularly complicated scenes, I have my husband or another poor soul read it out loud. I listen to where they stumble over information or syntax and edit it till it is smooth.

By the end of Draft 4 you will be SICK of your novel, but it will be tight and fluid.

I actually do one final proofreading on mine in an ebook format. I’m always shocked at how many small typos I miss.

BUT IT’S SOOOOO MUCH WORK!!! Yes. It is. But, as with anything, the work is a commitment to your craft. You owe it to your novel to make it into a masterpiece.

BUT MY WRITING IS SO GOOD THAT IT DOESN’T NEED ALL THIS WORK!!! Trust me, IT DOES. No matter how good the writer, we all make mistakes. Our brains only read what we INTENDED to write–not what we actually wrote. This is why editing is absolutely essential prior to publication. If you can master becoming an efficient self-editor, you will save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and money later on!

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