3 Simple Ways to Make Editing Easier!

Efficient and effective editing is critical to the success of your writing; without it, you will turn readers off with typoes and odd word usements before they get the chance to fall in love with your story, characters, and imagery.

It would be great if our work as writers was done when we finished the rough draft, but it's really just begun.  Solid editing delivers your writing from an idea all the way to a finished product that will grab your audience by their hearts and minds.

There are three ways to make editing easier for you, which will in turn make reading your work easier for your audience ...

1) Accept that editing requires numerous read-throughs and revisions

Editing can't be a "one and done" task.  At the very least, you should have a person beside yourself: read your rough draft for content (story, storyline, pacing, conflict/resolution, and characters); after fixing the rough draft content, have another person do the copy-editing (grammar, spelling, format, clarity, etc.); when the writing is polished and read for publication, have it proofread by another person (someone to go over the whole thing with a fine-toothed comb for any lingering issues).  Any or all of those stages may need to be repeated multiple times (possibly with multiple readers) before you are ready to go to print.

Anyone who insists that they can edit their own work is lazy, lying, or deluded.

You need to have outside eyes and minds looking at your writing to edit effectively and efficiently ...this is not a part of the self-publishing process that you can do by yourself.

2) Use the right tools for each stage of the writing/editing job

A surgeon uses knives and clamps and sutures.  A carpenter uses a hammer and nails and a saw.  A chef uses the best ingredients, tried and true recipes, and pots/pans.  Writing (and editing) is the same, in that you need to use the best tools in the proper manner to get optimal results.

I do my research and planning on paper notepads with pens.  I write using my laptop and Microsoft Word.  My content-readers read the story in pdf format, and then meet with me to tell me what they thought.  I share the next version of the story in doc format, so that my copy-editor can tear the story apart (and then later, I can put it back together) with track-changes.  I like to read the print-ready final copy on paper.

That's my process.  I know lots of authors who HATE track-changes, and prefer their editors use a red pen or  manipulate multiple versions of the story with GoogleDocs.  I like a face to face meeting to discuss the big-picture of the story, but hate going through copy-editing with my editor.  How it works for me is unimportant (except to me) ... you need to explore the options out there, and pick the method that works for you (by which I mean yields the best finished product for you and your readers).

The only hard and fast rule should be to vary how you interact with your text and editors at each stage of the process, so that it is seen and modified in different ways.

3) Do your final proof with paper and pen and stickies

As both a reader and a writer, I feel strongly that printed paper is magical.  I like the way that it feels and smells and looks ... I love reading on my Kindle and iPad and Kobo, but still feel that I get the closest read with a printed-paper book (perhaps in the same way that I get a closer shave with a real razor than with an electric one).

When a story of mine has been through content reading/editing and copy-editing and proof-reading with outside readers, I like to get a printed copy of it, and go through with an actual red pen to look for problems.  I almost always find something (or a number of somethings) to fix or un-fix.  More than that, it also gives me a chance to pretend that I'm reading it with new eyes, and to explore the things about it that I found interesting enough to write down in the first place.

I haven't come across a perfectly edited/proofed story in the last ten years, including all of the hundreds of books that I've read in that time ... there's always something that can be fixed

 I hope that these three tips will help improve your editing process.



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