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Are you in a self-editing nightmare?
Here are 9 Simple Ways to Edit Your Manuscript.
A writers’ victories are short-lived indeed.
For a brief moment after completing a first draft, writers sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, post a self-congratulatory humble brag on their social media sites about finishing their manuscript, and then immediately think about that one character we forgot to really complete, or that we’re pretty sure we overused the word “that” instead of “than,” or that those squiggly red lines scattered throughout our manuscript are surely incorrect.
In other words, the joys of #amwriting give way to the trials of #amediting.
As a strong believer that every author needs an editor, your first line of literary defense shouldn’t be a professional editor. Rather, you need to learn how to self-edit before sending your manuscript off for that second pair of eyes.
Breaking Rules Publishing offers full-service editing packages and payment plans that are affordable to everyone. We have witnessed dozens of simple mistakes authors constantly make. If only they’d take the time to learn and incorporate better self-editing techniques, they would become better writers; endear themselves to their editors, and maybe even save money on a professional edit.
Check out our editing services on the Breaking Rules Publishing website –www.breakingrulespublishing.com.
If you think that you’re ready to self-edit your book, take a look at these 10 tips that will help you out:
1. Rest yourself and your manuscript
When you’ve finished typing the last word of your masterpiece, set it aside for a few days. If you can stand it, set it aside for a week or more. Many writers place their finished drafts in a drawer for at least a week before looking at them again.
Why rest your draft for so long? It’s easy - you want to try to forget everything you’ve written so that when you do come back to it with fresh eyes, and the best way to do that is to rid your mind of what’s been filling it for so long.
2. Listen to your manuscript
Hearing your words spoken makes mistakes glaringly obvious. You can enlist a (very patient) friend to read it to you, or you can go the friendship-saving route, which has the benefit of being free: use your computer’s built-in speech synthesis function.
For PC users, make use of Narrator, part of the system’s Ease of Access Center. Press “Windows+U” and click “Start Narrator.” Since the program is intended for blind users, it will automatically begin to read any text your mouse encounters. To turn this off, hit “Control.” To have Narrator read a paragraph, place your cursor at its beginning and type “Caps Lock + I.” To have Narrator read an entire page, press “Caps Lock + U.”
3. Search for troubling words
All writers have specific words and phrases that
(which?) always cause them to (too?) second-guess whether (weather?) they’re (their?) using them correctly. If you know what your (you’re?) troubling words are, use your word processor’s search function to locate every possible variant of that word or phrase.
To help you consider what your troubling words might be, here’s a good starting list.
· a lot/a lot
· into/in to
If you’re unsure of how to properly use these words, there’s no shame in looking them up.
4. Remove or replace your crutch words
Do you know the top 10 words you use most frequently in your manuscript?
Outside of necessary articles and prepositions, you may be surprised at what words you tend to use over and over. One client of mine used “suddenly” too often, making every action seem unnecessarily rushed. Some new writers have crutch words that tend to fly in the face of the age-old encouragement for all writers to “eschew obfuscation.”
In other words, they tend to cash in ten-dollar words when five-cent words suffice.
Many writers put words on the paper that are an indication of how they speak. This is fine – just remember that your reader may not understand and you may need to explain your way of speech somewhere to give them a hint about what is going on. “With,” is something that I personally have an issue with. “Do you want to come with? Go with.” And, on and on. So consider your reader as you write.
No matter how you determine your crutch words, go back through your manuscript and see where you can remove or replace them with something fresher.
5. Remove all double spaces at the end of sentences
If tapping two spaces following your sentences is an age-old habit ingrained into you since before the dawn of modern digital typography, may I suggest ingraining another practice? It simply is no longer done, so find a new habit.
6. Search for problematic punctuation
Are you a comma chameleon, adapting that otherwise innocent punctuation mark to do work it was never meant to do? Or does your manuscript need a semicolonoscopy — a thorough check-up on proper semicolon and colon placement?.
If you know you have trouble with certain punctuation marks, conduct a search for that mark and figure out whether you’re using it correctly. If you’re still unsure, let your editor fix it, but make a note to ask him why.
7. Run spell check or use an automated editing program
I think writers become too accustomed to the colorful squiggles under words and sentences on their digital pages; I know I do. In an effort to get ideas on the page, we might run rampant over grammar and usage.
Yet those squiggles mean something. At the very least, run spell check before sending your manuscript to an editor or beta reader. It’s a built-in editor that I’m not sure every writer uses to their advantage. You may not accept every recommendation, but at least you’ll save your editor some time correcting basic errors.
8. Format accordingly
While preferred styles may differ from one editor to the next, you can show your professionalism by formatting your manuscript to conform to industry standards.
Such formatting makes it easier for beta readers to consume, and editors prefer industry-standard formatting, which allows them more time to edit your actual words instead of tweaking your formatting. Here are some basic formatting tips:
9. Don’t over-edit
Set aside an hour or two to go through this list with your manuscript, but be careful about over-editing. You may start seeing unnecessary trees within your forest of words, but you don’t want to raze to the ground what you’ve toiled so hard to grow.
A middle path exists between exhausting yourself in a vain attempt for perfection and being too lazy to run spell check. Do yourself and your book a favor and self-edit, but be careful not to go overboard.
In the end, you’re going to want a second pair of eyes to look at your manuscript. Plus, going through the editing process with a professional editor will help you become a better self-editor the next time you write a book.
Again – look to the Breaking Rules Publishing Services page to find our editing packages. And remember – we’re here to help you, if you need a payment plan, don’t be shy, we more than understand. You only need to ask.
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As always, Breaking Rules Publishing continues to accept submissions in all genres from writers around the world. Simply email us at email@example.com