Yaaay – you’ve finished your book. Nooo – you’ve got to edit it.
Sounds familiar? You’re not alone! Editing is like a fun-sucking dread monster lurking in the background of your writing sessions. Or, less dramatically, it’s something we might feel like we have to do, instead of wanting to do.
Here’s WriteMentor’s top tips to make editing your manuscript not only easier but maybe…dare we say it…fun?
Edit in a different format
If you typed your manuscript on a laptop or computer, print it out at the editing stage. Use highlighters or coloured pens to track changes or flag up errors. Or, if you want to go digital, upload your manuscript onto an e-book. Editing in a different format gives you critical distance from your writing, while keeping your mind fresh as you re-read your story (once, twice, three times…).
Read out loud
Good writing flows easily, captures a certain rhythm, and varies the pace. Read it out loud and, if you stumble over a sentence, you might need to polish your prose. Reading your story out loud can hone in on over-repeated words, clunky sentence structure, or unrealistic dialogue. And you don’t have to edit it alone. Ask a friend or family member to read it out loud while you make notes, or use text-to-speech software.
Find a second opinion
Generally, a second opinion on your writing is important, but it’s worthwhile asking someone to read your manuscript with an editor’s eye. Again, maybe you have a willing friend or family member, or you might try a professional editing service. Often, a writer is so invested in their own story that it’s difficult to get an outsider’s point of view without actually involving an outsider in the editing process.
Take a break
Editing a manuscript can be a slog, particularly after writing it. Writing was fun as the story unfolded in front of you, but the prospect of re-reading that same story so closely…less so. Don’t edit in one go. Set yourself a reasonable goal for each editing session, and then take a well-earned break away from your manuscript. Try writing something new instead or do something completely different. Your brain will thank you for it.
Enjoy the process
Perhaps the hardest advice to follow, but try and enjoy editing. Instead of dreading it, embrace it as another important step towards your finished novel. Editing can take your plot down unexpected paths, teach you new things about your characters, and give a different – and better – shape to your story. Writing is like laying down the bricks of the building, while editing is the fun part – furnishing the rooms, painting the walls, and adding the decorations to make it the perfect home for your characters.
Want more editing support?
In WriteMentor’s online 8-week FirstEdit course, author Lindsay Galvin will empower you to find what helps you to best edit your manuscript, through trying a range of methods to discover your editorial style.
Or try our Quick Spark editing service…
Published authors offer editing services via WriteMentor’s Quick Spark. Includes submission package read throughs all the way up to partial or full manuscript developmental editing.