I’ve just finished my fourth novel, yay me! So now, I’m editing.
So in light of this I’m going to post what is in my opinion, four great tips to help you become better at editing! I do understand that over time each and every writer will develop a system that works for them, but for those of us that are still on the green side—I’m including myself in this mix because editing and polishing is not my strong suit at all—these are things that will make the job a lot easier and a lot less daunting.
1. Read, read and read some more. I know this isn’t directly related to editing your own work but it is important. I find the more books I read the more knowledge about how to properly word and punctuate sentences I gain. I also learn about style, pacing and how to develop characters that readers will love. If I find a good book that I just can’t put down, the Author’s done something right and that’s what kind of novel I strive to create.
Now reading also includes work other than novels, but really anything that catches your attention whether it be the newspaper, how to books or even going back to school and doing punctuation and grammar exercises.
2. Some will find that a novel is like a fine wine and once you complete it, you need to put it away and let it breathe for awhile. I’m not like this. I want to dive in and start reading through right away. This is something you will have to learn on your own, what kind of person you are. The dive in right away or let the novel breathe and allow things to percolate. But it’s important to discover who you are. Because, you really don’t want to rush editing a novel. You need to work at a pace that works for you and remember that it’s not just about the finish line; it’s how you got there that’s just as important.
3. I like to be a critique partner or Beta to other Authors. This goes in hand with number one. If you read and read and understand, well then you can learn to fix other people’s work at the same time you learn to fix yours. Sometimes it’s easier in the beginning to tell other’s what doesn’t quite work, or what does than doing it with your own piece. Not to mention this opens the doors for you, most people will gladly return the favour. And having a critique partner or beta of your own does wonders. They too can help you along the way, give you tips, advice and fix some of your grammar and punctuation. Also, having someone point out why a sentence doesn’t work, and how to properly structure it helps you understand what you did wrong and how to fix it.
4. This is one of the most important things ever. SHOW don’t TELL. I don’t know why sometimes it’s so hard, but once you’ve mastered this, your editing time will be spent on more important things like grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, as well as pacing. You want to paint a picture for your reader, show them through actions, dialogue and what not instead of telling me what the novel is about in a sort of blah way.
Now of course, you might be thinking that these four tips—I went with four because five is so overdone, don’t you think?—don’t really help you with editing, how to form that perfect sentence or show you where to put your commas. Well, that’s true. This doesn’t because think of this as the first step. If you can master these tips, then you are ready to move on.
Not to mention, I’m not at all ashamed to say that I too am still learning! So together we can learn how to write, edit and produce awesome novels.