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10 Things to Think About When Editing a Book

Updated on May 15, 2016

1) Clear description – You can see it in your head, but can the reader see it? The setting, characters, movements and the environment around the people you’ve made. They need to be clean and clear, not overly described, but described enough for the reader to see what you want them to.

2) Long sentences – If a sentence just keeps going, and going, and going kill it. Cut it in half and break it down. Unless of course it’s a stylistic choice. If you wrote that many words in a string on purpose, then it’s alright; It’s unlikely that you did, though, don’t be lazy, chop it up.

3) Large Paragraphs – Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue! Long paragraphs make your readers want to stop reading, make sure the story flows with dialogue. Without dialogue, the thickness of your paragraphs will seem clumsy and rough. Dialogue drives the story, without it the story gets stale, and a paragraph without dialogue is evidence of the staleness.

4) Clumsy Dialogue – Though one of the most important things dialogue has to make sense. You can’t write “What do you want for dinner’ and have a character respond with ‘football.' If it makes sense and there’s a lot of it, the story flows as it’s supposed to. If not then your reader will be uninterested before they read past the first paragraph.

5) Cutting it Down – Cutting down a story is one of the hardest parts when you have to remove scenes you didn’t really feel for, or really need in the first place. Sometimes cutting out characters themselves is necessary, simply because they held no meaning for the story itself. Sometimes a character comes to a point where they’re no longer useful, and that’s when they need to be killed off. Cut down the story to what is needed and build those parts back up.

6) Consistency – When editing if you notice someone has a backpack, and then another person has the same backpack without it being given to them fix it. Consistency is everything. Is your character on her skateboard or is she walking with it under her arm? Figure it out; you can’t have the best of both worlds.

7) Awkward Phrases – Don’t use phrases like ‘knee slapper’ or any number of slang. Some people who are reading your work, believe it or not, will have no idea what it means. If there is potential for people around the world to read it, don’t use it for this reason. If it’s only going to be published in your area, just remember how unprofessional it sounds.

8) Appropriate Description – Show Don't Tell is one of the most important rules in writing, and ‘showing’ the description of everything is also quite high on the list. Describing can be overdone, though, too much description leaves nothing for the reader, and too little leaves them without anything to work their imagination around. Descriptions should fall right in the middle, not too much, but not too little.

9) Spelling and Grammar – These two things go together, and I like to do them last, just because you’re likely going to be flushing out your scenes at first. Leaving these until last ensures you can correct all the spelling and grammar issues in one or two edits instead of five or six.

10) Actually do it – This isn’t the fun part, believe me it’s kind of terrible. Cutting out things you love or scenes you worked hard on just because they don’t fit. On top of spelling and grammar, along with beefing up your scenes editing is a massive pain. If you don’t do it, though, all of the writing you’ve done to get to this point will be for nothing. Get to work.


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    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 16 months ago

      Great hub! I am writing a book currently. I have not reached the editing stage. But, these are useful tips for when I do start editing.