Editing can be a tricky process, especially when editing your own work. The problem is that you’ve spent an awful lot of time on this project and you’ve grown attached to every single sentence and every single word. It is your baby, and even though you know you must, the thought of changing anything about it fills you with dread.
It is a necessary part of the writing process though, and even if you plan to spend money on a professional editor, you should still self-edit your work first.
Once you have written your first draft, and after you’ve let it rest in a drawer, a cupboard or on a shelf for a week or so, it is time to grab a red pen and prepare to go through your manuscript one word at a time.
Personally, I begin with a proofread, so I take my project to a room in the house where I know I can sit in silence without distractions. This is essential because, for proofreading, your level of concentration needs to be as high as possible. Anything that can pull your focus away even for a second can cause you to miss something.
I read through the work, marking any grammatical errors I see at first glance. As I go, I keep an eye out for words and phrases that I know I use too much such as ‘suddenly’, ‘just then’ and ‘all of a sudden’. It may also help at the end if you use your word processor’s ‘find and replace’ function to search for these words and phrases if you want to make extra certain that you’ve found them all. I also try to watch out for overused exclamation points.
This may take a few sittings to complete depending on how long your manuscript is. If it’s a short story, then you can probably do it in one sitting, but novels will obviously take longer.
Next, I turn to the back page and begin to read backwards word by word. I do this to check for any misspelt words, and there’s usually a fair few since during the writing process I turn off the word processor’s spelling and grammar checker. I do use Grammarly at the very end of the editing process to make sure I haven’t missed anything. It’s a convenient tool, and I prefer to use it at the end because I feel as though I won’t learn anything if the computer corrects everything for me as I type.
Finally, I read the whole thing aloud to either my partner or another willing family member to make sure that the entire thing flows the way I want it to and that every sentence sounds correct. This is also very helpful in spotting any missing commas; if a sentence is too long with no commas to break it up, then you’ll be able to hear that when you’re reading.
Then I ask some trusted people whose honesty and opinions I value to read what I’ve written and to give me feedback. Once I’ve received all of their views and advice I prepare to perform the next job of the writing process – Revising my work.
Thank you very much for reading if you did, as always, I appreciate you spending your valuable time here.
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Until next time,