Editing Tips

Editing Tips

Lots of writers will tell you that editing is a pit of fire and brimstone authors avoid until the last possible moment, knowing that they are going to have to burn some of their darling words once they go down there. I know many who keep a constant supply of chocolate and their choice of caffeine close by to take some of the sting out of the editorial process.


I can’t say I feel quite the sameway. Now, don’t get me wrong, watching the word count slowly drop as I hack and slice at the words I’ve put onto the page isn’t always fun. Its downright sad at times. I’ve had to lose phrases I loved because they just didn’t work where they were. Sometimes its necessary to make the story better.

That’s a hard lesson to learn, but its one every writer learns early.

The editing process is hard. It is. But I also think its pretty fantastic. I love reading something, whittling away at words until something emerges that’s smooth and beautiful on your tongue. Like a river rock – it starts off craggy, but once its worn away at the edges, its beaufitulf and fits in your palm just right.

There are a few key things to remember with editing.

  • Try to do it at the end. Some people edit as they go. I do this a bit. But don’t let it get you bogged down and distracted so you can’t keep writing. I’ve let it do this to me too. Its hard to get back into the writing mindset when you spent an hour editing what you finished the day before.

  • Read it aloud. When you read your own work, you add in words that should be there but maybe never made it. Things like it, the, but, and, and etc. If you read it aloud, you’re more likely to stumble and realize those words are missing. It also serves a good purpose when you’re editing sections with dialogue. Saying the words out loud will help you to hear it, and you can better understand when the words are stilted or too formal or just…not right.

  • Don’t get sad. If you really love a line or scene that has to be taken out, cut it and paste it on a separate document (I do this anyway for passages longer than a paragraph, just in case.) and save it as a “maybe another story” type thing. Sometimes you might find somewhere else in the same story that it works better.

  • Last, SAVE. Save every version. You may think that’s overkill, but sometimes a major change may sound good one day, and then when you go back another day its awful. If you overwrite the original file, yo’re out of luck. I save my edits by version – that way you have a better idea how far back you need to go.

Don’t stress. It’ll be okay. Edits are a necessary evil, and your story will be better for having done them.

And if all else fails, eat some chocolate.

Chocolate makes everything better.

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