Whether you are planning to publish traditionally or independently, you must edit your work. Some writers hire an editor to look over every social media post, book, and article they write. But what if you don’t have a full-time editor on your staff? Here are a few tips to help you clean up your work before you submit it.
Read it aloud:
Try reading your piece out loud, and then you will notice places where you may stammer or trip over incorrect grammar or word choice. While this is a helpful tool to check your work, it isn’t perfect. Since you are the author, sometimes our minds read what we meant to say instead of reading it verbatim. If you can get someone else to read it out loud, it works even better.
We’ve all heard them, and it makes your work a little sloppy if you cannot come up with your own word choice.
Avoid being too clever:
While we all know we shouldn’t use cliches, sometimes authors try to be too clever with their word choices, and the readers are left to stumble through. As an author, we must remember that the reader has a thousand distractions at any given moment. While you are busy trying to sound smart, the reader has to decide if he or she wants to keep reading.
Don’t edit as you write:
If you try to edit as you write your first draft, you’ll find it nearly impossible to complete. Instead, let the words flow as they come to you. Then set the piece aside and let it cool for a bit before you jump right in and start editing.
Print it out:
If you’re a child of the ’80s, you might find it easier to edit your work if you have a printed copy in front of you. While this works for a lot of people, it is only a suggestion. The important thing is to find what works for you.
Start in the chaos:
You always want to start your book with a powerful hook to hold the reader’s interest. For fiction writers, I suggest you start in the chaos and then fill in the back story later on in the book. Non-fiction writers need to find a way to hook the readers in their first paragraph. To give you an example from my career, I will tell you how I started Unorganized Crime. This book was about an ex-gangster from Chicago. Instead of starting the book when he was born and letting it read like a textbook, I chose to start the story when Sidney was 17-years-old and breaking out of prison. I then went back and added bits of his childhood throughout the book.
Point of View:
Should you use only one? Should you use more than one? The answer will depend on who you ask. I suggest if you choose to use more than one point of view to at least keep each chapter in one POV. If you switch back and forth too much, it frustrates the reader, and a frustrated reader will not finish your book.
Don’t be afraid to cut out your favorite part:
When editing your work, you must be willing to cut your favorite character for the good of the story if need be.
Once you have your manuscript as clean as possible, then it’s time to consider finding an editing app and a professional editor to finish the job. I personally use Grammarly.com to clean up my work before sending it off to my editor.
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