Sunday, February 5, 2012

Some of My Editing Secrets

I’ve heard writers tell: they hate to edit but love to write the first draft. Personally I'm the opposite. Get the story out of my head is the painful part.  Once I have it on paper, the fun begins.  I liken it to sculpting with clay. Getting the initial shape done is the hard part. After that the thing starts to look like something.  Here are some of my editing secrets.

1. Read it aloud with Adobe Reader X or programs like Read Aloud. Listening to your work read while following along can be a great way to find typos, missing words and repeat words.

2. Look for overused words. Many times these are words used too often and sometimes not  necessary.  Here are a few from my list...justthennowwell.

3. Read out of order. Reading them out of order keeps from getting lulled into reading the story and missing something.

4. Look for repeat words. The same word repeated over a short section of text begins to stand out.

5. Look for too much similarity between scenes. It’s easy to duplicate information or a situation.

6. Using was, is, were or are can be a sign of weak or passive sentences. Eliminate them where possible.

7. Find someone to proofread your work.  A second opinion is valuable.

8. Read it on an ebook reader.  I’ve found if I turn my work into an epub format and put it on my reader, I find typos I never saw when editing in Word.

9. Put the work away for a while and come back later. Fresh eyes can do wonders.

10. Run the Grammar and Spell Checker. Just take whatever it finds with a grain salt.

That’s some of my suggestions. What are your editing secrets?


  1. I tend to read back my work in an accent. Usually a British accent. I find more mistakes when I read it back this way rather than in the same voice I write with in my mind. I know it sounds a little strange, but using an accent actually helps me find mistakes. BTW: My British accent is terrible.

  2. Oh I almost forgot. I also use a program called Scrivener. It's available on Mac or Windows for about $40. It has a nifty little feature that displays a repeated word count. Essentially it lists all of the words and the # of times they occur, with a percentage of the total words. You can do this for the whole document or just a section of the manuscript.

    Lastly for grammar, I sometimes cut and paste sections of text into a "mock" blog entry on my blog. There is a spell checker/grammar checker that is very useful. If it detects a grammatical error, it gives you the reason why it thinks is a mistake with. So for example something like minds and mind's - it tells you what the difference is so you can use the correct grammar for the context in your text.

  3. I use the createspace paper back version OR print it out - it is amazing the how different something reads between a screen and paper.