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Friday, February 20, 2009

Editing Tips

This is a four stage editing process I've come up with. I've thrown in advice I've gathered from reading books on writing, and listening to writing podcasts. I kind of broke it down into 4 phases to go through, starting broad, and then narrowing down. You could almost say you start with revision, and then get down into editing. I hope it is helpful to you.

Dan’s Editing Process

1. The Story as a Whole

  • Read it out loud, you'll catch things you wouldn't be simply reading through it.
  • Everything Make Sense?
  • Any plot holes?
  • Protagonist go through a change? Character Arc?
  • Problems too easily solved?
  • Each scene, character moving the story forward?
  • Anything boring, or slowing the story down?
  • Challenges have a strong enough conflict?
  • Any fluff that’s not adding to the story? Kill your darlings!


2. Breaking It Down Into Scenes

  • Break story into individual scenes, treating each scene as it's own story, does it work?
  • Characters acting believably to who they are?
  • Show don’t tell
  • No grocery list descriptions


3. Line Editing

  • Work from the last sentence to the first sentence in the last paragraph, read sentence to sentence then the full paragraph, all the way to the beginning.
  • Editing Checklist: Spelling
  • Spell check has been run.
  • "It's" and "its" have been used correctly ("it's" is a contraction for "it is"; "its" is possessive).
  • All other homonyms -- which spell check would not catch -- have been checked. (For example, you wouldn't want to write: "She peaked through the blinds and saw the peek of Mt. Ampersand.")
  • Editing Checklist: Grammar
  • Dialogue is punctuated correctly.
  • Any run-ons or fragments are intentional (and even those are rare).
  • Subjects and verbs agree in number, and verb tenses are consistent throughout.
  • Commas have been used correctly.
  • "That" and "which" have been used correctly.
  • There are no unclear or confusing pronoun references.
  • Sentence structure varies in descriptive or expository passages. (Keep your reader interested.)
  • The sentences are concise.
  • Consideration has been given to word choice. (This means you have consulted a thesaurus.)
  • Basic facts have been checked (especially ones that would be embarrassing to get wrong).


4. Get Feedback

  • Use what you think is good advice, it’s still your book
  • Don’t get offended, use feedback, and thank them for it, they read it!

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