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Thursday, January 19, 2012

7 Simple Edits

Lately, I’ve been an editing fiend so I thought, “What better time than now to share my editing tips?” Yes, you read the correctly, editing tips. Sure, writing tips are helpful for the first run-through or so, but editing is an entirely different animal. And while the material on how to become a better writer is endless, resources for editing are few and far between. So here you are writers! Seven helpful editing tips!
Ok, actually, before you even start editing, be sure you’ve done the following:
Created an outline. Written a rough draft and reread your product. Formatted your story based on preliminary changes for a solid foundation.
There yet? Good. Now you’re ready to edit.
1- Read Out Loud: This is a step that will help you catch missing letters or small words like “to” that you may have skipped over during the first run-through. It will also show you awkward wording since I’ll bet you’ll find it awkward to read.
2- Finding Flow: You can’t jump from A to Z, there’s a whole alphabet of letters to pass through first. Your writing will sound choppy if your transitions weren’t smooth. Take the time to patch them up. You’ll find yourself sliding through the plot as opposed to stumbling.
3- Repetition:  Thoughts get repeated. It’s a fact. You repeat yourself in writing. Just an avoidable truth. Whether its words or phrases, or even whole paragraphs, take into account where there’s repetition and take it out. There are exceptions, but that’s another post.
4- Show Don’t Tell: No one wants to read a lackluster story that answers everything for them. Paint a picture with your words! Lead readers down your carefully maintained trail, with excess information swept aside until you have them cornered in your woodland cabin. Alone. Terrified.  I mean…until they are absorbed in the narrative and forget it’s not real.
5- Trim the Fat: On your editing journey, you will come across many unnecessary words, sentences, scenes, or pages even that add nothing but evil filler to your tale. Cut them out. It will be alright. Your novel will not only forgive you, but thank you for making it better.  
6- Rinse and Repeat: Plain and simple. Once you’ve edited, you’ll probably feel the need to add new details and patch up your handiwork. Go ahead. Make some changes, reread and then edit again. And again. Sure, one more time.
7- Know When to Stop: Now stop it. You actually CAN edit too much. Unless you’re a professional editor, there are surely things you’ll miss. But before you hand your baby over, you can definitely polish your work to a shiny finish.
Leave a comment if you have specific editing questions or tips!

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