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Editing Your Novel?--What Editing Style is Right For You?
Never Stop Improving!
Editing is Boring. I want to get to the good stuff!
If you are anything like me, you dread editing your novel. According many authors, the editing process is the most grueling. Why am I telling you this? You have your novel (even if it's still a work-in-progress)...Trust me, it will be worth it.
First, I would like to point out a difference between editing an revising. Editing is essentially checking for grammar, punctuation, and so on. Revising, on the other hand, is primarily rewording or even restarting a section of material.
As you can see, there really isn't a major difference. However, some literary agents and publishing houses might be turned off by the incorrect use of terms such as editing and revising. Don't think you have know the difference or they will drop you like a salt shaker on french fries. If you do know, it will impress them.
If you have already started researching into traditional or self-publishing or a literary agent, you know that first impressions are everything. Tread carefully. The more information that you know, the more likely an agent or publisher will want to take on your novel.
Knowledge is power.
Here's a Self-Edit Checklist that might help
Contrary to popular belief, there are tons of different and effective ways to edit. I will explore some of the most common and even some you might not have heard about.
- Reading it aloud
- Reading it backwards, from end to beginning
- Hand-editing, with paper and a pen
- Computer editing (Yes, it's different from hand-editing.)
Editing Style 1: Reading Your Manuscript Aloud
The title is self-explanatory but let me explain why.
On the page, your story may seem amazing or incredibly horrible as mine was. However, if you read your manuscript aloud in a room by yourself, you may find that your story seems different. Why is that?
When you look at words on a page, you imagine hearing them. However, when you hear them, you can notice things that would normally wouldn't if you were merely reading them. That leads to how our brains work, but I won't go there. Find a psychologist or brain surgeon whose hub can tell you about the cognitive process.
Anyway, this method works best for dialogue. Just as you portray your characters speaking, you must recognize when those words don't sound right aloud.
A helpful tip before reading your manuscript aloud: Write what you would say in that character's position. Chances are, if you wouldn't say it, they wouldn't either.
Editing Style 2: Reading Your Manuscript Backwards
As strange as it sounds, this method has been known to reveal even more about your manuscript you may never thought was a problem. Of course, this doesn't mean read each word backwards, just the sentence.
You could think of it like isolating each individual sentence to see if it can stand alone. Most of your sentences probably can't stand alone and still make sense. They rely on the sentences before and after them. After all, that's what makes up your manuscript.
This style of editing also works better if you can cover up the sentences before and after the one you are working on. This allows you to focus only on one sentence at a time. If you haven't noticed before, pay attention to your eyes and where they go as you read something, such as this hub. You may find them jumping ahead.
Watch out for any possible mistakes you could have made. Apostrophes are important!
Editing Style 3: Hand-Edit Your Manuscript With Paper and Pen
Where is your manuscript now? Is it stored on your computer's hard drive? Is it printed on copy paper or hand written? The form that your manuscript is on is actually important.
Remember in middle and high school when your teachers made you write everything out?...Thank them. They taught you a valuable lesson.
Whether you're aware of it or not, your brain processes things better when things are repeated. Articles in the web from authors who have published books all say the same thing--repetition is key.
In the case of your manuscript, writing it on paper (in pencil) enhances your chances of discovering typos, grammatical errors, and even sentence structure flaws before you begin fully editing. I personally, have discovered this. I began writing my first manuscript in pencil and discovered things I fixed early on. I have since been writing EVERY manuscript I am working on before typing it up on the computer.
Another thing, writing your novel on paper first is great. Typing it up after: even better. Here comes the repetition. Preferably, typing up each section of your novel you finish can help with the flow of your story.
A helpful tip: Re-read the previous section you typed and continue typing the current section. If the previous and current sections don't flow, you can fix it now.
Remember, repetition is key. If you think typing your manuscript up a second time will help, more than likely you're right. Go for it!
Editing Style 4: Computer Editing
I've spoken a little about computer editing in the 'Hand-Editing' section above. Computer editing deserves a section of it's own because it is just as important, if not more, than hand-editing.
You may be thinking, "Microsoft Word has spell check, grammar check, and a thesaurus; Why do I need to use anything else?"
During the endless research process that still continues today, I have come across countless numbers of authors saddened by aspiring novelists' insistence on using Word. It is effective...to a point. Spell check doesn't correct MISUSED words. If you typed 'there' instead of 'their', Word won't correct it.
Sometimes, Grammar check picks up where Spell check lacks. If you came across the 'there/their' problem above, Grammar check MIGHT say there's a problem in the grammar of your sentence. Even so, you may not see the problem. As many words as there are in a manuscript, they take away from any imperfections, making it harder to see mistakes.
A helpful tip: Double-space your manuscript. It will help you find grammar and spelling errors. Nine times out of ten, single-spaced manuscripts are filled with errors you never knew you made. I say this because this has happened to me many times.
If you are one of those people, like me, who have to make sure every word is spelled right as you're typing, that may cut down on the spelling errors. It WILL NOT eliminate them.
Here's a video that may help you in your revisions
Helpful Articles on Editing Your Manuscript
- How To Edit Your Book in 4 Steps by Mike Nappa
- How To Edit A Manuscript on wikiHow
- 7 Tips For Revising A Novel by James Duncan
- How To Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes by Mary Jaksch
- Revising Your Work: 3 Easy-To-Use Revision Techniques by Brian Klems
Writer's Digest and Writer's Market are also good, reliable sites filled to the brim with articles on every aspect of writing and publishing. These are some of my personal favorites. I found them all through Google.
Are you done with your manuscript? Halfway? Have you even started? It doesn't matter!
Have you edited (or considered editing) your manuscript early after reading this hub?
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