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Writing means different things to me. I'm a storyteller, a book editor, and a songwriter. For me, it's like breathing.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Self-Editing Tips

Here are some self-editing tips I would like to pass on to fellow writers.

Tips for Editing Your Manuscript
By Kelley Heckart


Congratulations! You have finished the first draft of your manuscript. Now comes the really fun part of reading through the entire manuscript and checking for typos and other errors.

The best way to do this is to print a copy of the manuscript. This may seem like a tedious way to read it, but it is much easier to read from a printed copy than to stare at a glaring computer screen. Make sure you have a red pen to mark any errors you may find.

In addition to checking for typos and other grammatical errors, you want to check for the following:

Compelling openings. You want an opening that will draw the reader into the story.

Strong verbs. Verbs activate sentences. Be careful not to overuse certain words though.

Use all the senses. Using sight, touch, sound, taste and smell in your writing will help to show, and not tell the story, which will improve descriptions.

Showing/not telling. You want the reader to be drawn into your story by use of descriptive sentences. This can be accomplished by the use of all the senses, using dialogue that reveals the personality of a character, showing action with strong verbs, using metaphors, similes and personification (be careful not to overuse these figures of speech). Strong descriptions draw a reader into the story.

Unnecessary words. For example: The dog was running toward the pond. Instead of “was running” use “ran.” The dog ran toward the pond.

Varied sentence structure. Try to vary sentences so they don’t always begin with “He did” or “The.” For example: He stood slowly despite the throbbing in his head. Try this instead: Slowly, he stood despite the throbbing in his head. Just try to vary the sentences so they don’t all begin the same. When you read through your manuscript, make sure that all the sentences in a paragraph flow together.

Expanded moments. Try to trim the fat off of scenes if they seem too redundant and slow the story down.

It also helps to get another opinion. Have a friend read it through. Sometimes another person might see what you cannot. Give it a few days and then read the manuscript again. Keep doing this until there are no more red marks on the paper. Good luck!

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