A problem I’ve always had isn’t finding a story to write, it’s picking which story I want to write and developing that story. It’s like getting dressed in the morning: you’ve got tons of clothes, but which ones do you wear?
So, needless to say, I feel very accomplished by the time I finish writing the rough draft of a story. But, the story isn’t finished yet. There’s still the editing and revision to be done.
And boy is that tedious.
So, here are some tips for you writers that I have learned along the way:
- Edit only when you’re finished. I know it’s hard, but save the editing until you’ve completed your manuscript. Once you’ve finished, leave it. Don’t touch the manuscript for a week or two (or longer, as long as you don’t forge about it). Then, return to it and begin editing. This gives you a chance to take a break and clear your head. Your brain needs a break from reading the same thing over and over again. Now, when you return to it, you can read your manuscript through clearer lenses. You’ll be less likely to skim over parts and will be able to catch mistakes that you might’ve missed before.
- Minimize the usage of ‘that’. We use the word “that” in a liberal amount. If you can say a sentence without using the word “that”, do so. For example, I could say, She saw that he was reaching for the limb. Instead, try She saw he was reaching for the limb. It makes the sentence run smoother and is more appealing to the reader.
- Minimize the usage of adverbs. The Ocer-Usage of adverbs are a surefire way to cheapen you’re writing. Too many adverbs say you were too lazy to spend the time to think of an alternate way of saying the same thing. For example, I could write, “I want to go home,” the girl said sadly. Or, I could write, “I want to go home,” the girl said, her words laced with sadness. Which is better to read? I’m not saying never use adverbs, but I am saying use them very sparingly.
- Have someone else read and edit your work. Like I mentioned earlier, we have a tendency to skim over our own work, as we’ve read it hundreds of time. Giving the story to another person to read – some who will give you a honest review – will allow that person to point out things that the reader might not like, or little things that can improve the story. These are things we can easily miss, or might not want to admit we need to change because we’re so emotionally attached to the story.
- Put effort into your work. You’ve worked so hard and come so far. You’re on Your home stretch. You’re so close! Don’t throw it all away because you hate the editing process. Put just as much effort into the editing as you put into the rest of the book. Make your writing as spectacular as you are.
So, those are my five tips for editing. There are many more out there, if you look. But, those are the five that I think people overlook the most.