Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Editor's Self-Editing Tricks

On Monday, I talked about an editor needing an editor for his own work and I mentioned I’d share a few ways I’ve learned to edit my writing. Here are five tricks that you can use:

-Take time away from that scene, chapter, or book. The more time spent away, the better your chances of tweaking the manuscript. You need to distance yourself from the emotional bond you’ve created with the story and characters.

-Read the passage out loud. It’s funny how many errors you’ll trip over when you hear them.

-Have someone else read your story to you. Hearing your words come out in someone else’s voice will help distance you as well.

-Change the font and color of your text so it won’t feel like yours.

-Read slowly. Don’t get caught up in the story. Read one word at a time.

If you know of any other ways to self-edit, please share them. Or if you find that one method works better than others, let us know.

And for those of you anxiously awaiting contest details… The critique group contest opens on Friday, but if you want to get started, I’ll give you a couple of hints. I’ll be requesting a small writing sample from you (2-3 pages double spaced) in any adult romance genre or a genre with romantic elements. Your sample should be the best you can supply without any assistance. We want to see how well you can write, not your editor, beta reader, or critique partner. The piece you submit doesn’t have to be a complete scene, but if it isn’t, please let us know. For example, if you choose to include the middle and end of a scene because you want us to see how you can hook a reader, then add a little sentence or two at the beginning to situate us. If you decide to show us how you can set up a scene, but have too many words to show the ending, then let us know that as well. Also, it really helps for us to know the genre you’re writing, so please include that little piece of information, too.

That’s all you’re getting until Friday. See you then!


  1. Great advice!!! Reading out loud is a big thing for me. Things look great on screen but then when I read it, I can instantly tell where something is awkward!

    And definitely read slowly...we've been over our work so many times that sometimes our eyes can skip things so easily!

    Interesting about changing the font...I may have to try that one!!

  2. Good advice. My test readers and I read the characters' dialogue to one another. Bad dialogue really reveals itself then!

  3. "Change the font and color of your text so it won’t feel like yours." I've never heard of this idea, but I like it. Pretending that you're editing someone else's manuscript instead of yours is a great idea, considering I learn more about something when I "teach" it.

    Thanks for this post! I'll have to keep these tips in mind as I begin to edit.


  4. Great tips! One of the things I always do is to copy-paste a small section into another document so I can focus on the editing rather than the story. I'm also a huge fan of reading aloud--I've even been known to tape myself reading and play it back. I've caught story errors that way, in addition to the grammar/spelling errors that I caught while reading it out loud the first time.

  5. Great tips. This is actually something I've been working on. Printing your work out is also a big help.

  6. This is so hard to do! Thanks for the great tips :)

  7. Great tips!! I've never heard of the changing font/font size thing-will have to try it. :)

  8. I use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It finds a lot of style errors and helps me tighten up the writing a lot.

  9. If I find I'm caught up in the story, I stop and go back to reread.