Steph’s Editing Tips and Resources
I will be adding to this section as I come upon more resources and tips, but for now, I wanted to share my top five insights regarding the editing process.
1) Realize that you need an editor. As good of a writer as you may be, you can always be better, and it often takes an objective third party to really drive that point home.
2) Brush up on your basic grammar and mechanics. Regardless of what genre you write in, as a writer, there is no excuse for sloppy writing. Know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Know when to use affect as opposed to effect. Nothing turns me off of a book faster than bad writing.
3) Know where your strengths are, and actively solicit help for your weaknesses. Some people can generate the most fantastic and intricately-woven plots, but struggle with basic mechanics (run-on sentences, where to put the commas, etc.) Others have all the grammar and punctuation down, but struggle with pacing and character development. It’s natural to be stronger in one area than another; the key is to know when to call in the experts for assistance.
4) Take large amounts of time AWAY from your manuscript between revisions. It is very important to take time away from your work and come back to it with fresh eyes. They say ideally 2-4 weeks, but I’d advocate 2-3 months if you can manage it.
5) Practice the art of detachment. I’m a writer, so I know how attached we can get to our work. But I can also attest that being too close makes it very difficult to make the needed/recommended cuts. As counterintuitive as it may sound, you have to stop thinking of your manuscript as “your baby” when its time to go in and do a serious edit.
Below is a list of some of the most useful editing articles I’ve come across over the years:
Dang Blasted Editors, by Deatri King-Bey
Eight Ways to Tighten Your Prose, by Michele R. Bardsley
Keyman’s FIX-tion: Ten Quick Fixes to Improve Your Fiction NOW, by Garrie Keymn
Also, I highly recommend this book on to brush up on the basic principles of grammar. Not only does it hit all the high points, but it does so in a humorous, clever, engaging manner.
Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English
Patricia T. O’Conner
Copyright © 2010 by Stephanie Casher