How should you edit your own work for publication?
Also, are there any differences between editing for online publication, blogs, and physical publication.
I would say with anything you write, you should give it some time before editing your work, if at all possible. I usually write a hub, edit it once immediately, and then come back to it a day or two later. You notice a lot more when you come back a day or so later. In your mind, you already know what was meant, so you read that instead of what is in front of you at first.
It does help to read it out loud if you can. Even if you don't read it out loud, make sure to read it as if you have never seen it before. It helps you determine if it reads well and makes sense. It never hurts to add details or change sentences for clarity.
Print and edit a hard copy. If on screen, enlarge the print as much as possible and edit in a sans font as this makes errors easier to spot than when using a serif font.
Never ever rely on the automatic spellchecker to check spelling and grandma. Oh yes, that happened. A misspelled 'grammar' was auto changed to 'grandma' so no red underline and the author didn't check before submitting.
The purpose of editing is to get it right. It doesn't matter whether it is a novel or a blog or a silly little tweet.
To me, there are a couple of levels of editing. The simplest is to check for spelling errors and mistakes in grammar. The other, more complex area to review and correct when necessary is what I call clarity and coherence, a clear and logical flow.
Careful re-reads are probably your best tool. You have to be willing to read your own work over and over again if you hope to iron out all the problems. Read it after you wrote it. Read it after setting it aside. Read it after editing it. I re-read everything, including emails, facebook posts, and even this comment. It won't always catch every error, but you'd be surprised how much you can fix.
First finish what you're writing. don't write and edit at the same time. If you change your mind about something, by all means do it, if you think it will set the pace. If your writing is retrospective then keep to the past tense in your prose. If your perspective changes, make a clear break or make your reader aware that your terms of reference have temporarily changed, and then go back to your chosen retrospective.
My RAVENFEAST books are written as related to my central character in the present tense, but in places I take them back in time. Each time I 'change gear', I break the narrative and leave a visible space before taking them on. I also try to keep the prose going forward, active verbs not passive ones do that more effectively. 'I am going' is passive, 'I go' is active.
Taken in context, I edit to keep the motion in motion. If my character is in a reflective mood, I will edit his thoughts to read active-passive. Keep the '-ing' endings to a minimum, otherwise you'll get your readers thinking I am not following this very easily. it's like mentally trudging through soft sand or mud. Let them stride through the narrative at a steady pace and they'll arrive refreshed at the end.
Break up the narrative into bite-sized paragraphs. Don't 'rabbit' on and on. Life gets tedious enough without wading through pages of narrative without a rest. It's like a long walk, let your readers stop and admire the view, then tag them along again to the next view.
They'll thank you by buying your books again.
After reading and reviewing the book 'Grammer Girl' I remember a comment which said write first, that's your rough draft; and edit second with punctuation, the same way if one was freestyle writing.
It is hard to edit your own work. That being said, the answer will depend on how large the work is.
An example: A short story under 6,000 words can be put aside for a few days and easily scanned for blatant errors.
Novellas, or works exceeding 30,000 words, should be put aside for a full month before any editing is attempted.
The real answer you are looking for is: You cannot truly edit your own work.
To polish your work it goes through many rewrites and critiques. This will make the story very familiar to you. When this happens, your brain will disregard errors, and you will read your work skipping over the errors.
What to do:
Complete your rewrites until you have polished your story/novella/novel. Usually 6 or more rewrites will be needed. Once that is complete, search out a good editor. Don't go cheap on this step. Editing is important, and there are several different types of editing you can get. They range from simple editing (spelling and grammar checking), to line editing (following the story line for consistency).
Poor editing sticks out and makes a person put your hard work down. If you are serious about writing, follow the steps and have a polished work available for your audience.
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