Self Editing Tips For Writers

Self-editing can often be a challenge from writers. How are you supposed to delete or replace the precious words you have written?

Self-editing can often destroy your creativity when you are writing your first draft. But it can help to do the following suggestions before you send off your manuscript off to an editor or a beta reader.

But it can also be very helpful in cleaning up your manuscript.

Here are some good ways of self-editing:

Once you’ve finished writing your novel will book set it aside for a few days or longer and then go back to it with fresh eyes.

Print your manuscript or read it aloud as this will make it easier to spot any mistakes or errors. If you don’t want to read it yourself, there are some text-to-speech programs that can read it aloud for you. I often get my voice recognition software to read things I have written for me.

Search for troubling words such as:

  • a lot/a lot
  • there/their
  • can/may
  • good/well
  • lay/lie
  • affect/effect
  • its/it’s
  • into/in to
  • who/whom

Search and check punctuation to make sure it’s correct.

Use spell check, whilst this shouldn’t be relied on completely it does occasionally help in spotting certain errors.

Try using a style guide to see how certain words, punctuation and numbers are used. I use the Guardian style guide when I’m writing articles and other non-fiction work. For Fiction work, I usually use the Oxford Style Guide. Another good style guide is the Chicago Manual of Style which I use when writing or editing things in US English.

If you’re not sure about spelling or the meaning of a word use a dictionary or thesaurus to check it.

Format your document; this can vary from one editor to another. But it can help to format your manuscript to an industry standard.

Here are some basic formatting tips:

  • Save your manuscript as a Word document in .doc or .docx
  • Use double-spaced line spacing. If you’ve already written your book with different line spacing, select all of your text in Word, click Format > Paragraph, then select “Double” in the drop down box under “Line spacing.”
  • Use a single space following a full stop.
  • Use black, 12-point and Times New Roman as the font.
  • Don’t hit the space bar to indent your paragraphs. In Word, select all of your text, then set indentation using Paragraph, then click indentation, go to Special, and then click First line.
  • The first paragraph of any chapter, after a subheader, or following a bulleted or numbered list shouldn’t be indented.

What do you do when you’re self-editing?

Resources

The 7 deadly sins of self-editing

Self-editing for fiction writers

 

About Tiffany Shand

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