A flood of emotions fills you as you feel the end near. The pen finally falls from its final race. Ink exhausted.
But, what’s that? The pen now hovers in front of you, growling and gloating. “You’re NOT done with ME yet!”
You do not have to have a completed manuscript to edit. Many will caution to plow forward and do not edit, leaving editing to the end. The main concern I see is some say editing becomes so consuming and daunting that it hinders the writers to the point they stop writing.
Editing has actually helped me write forward. In fact, after receiving some insightful feedback from a faithful test reader, I realized some things I wanted to keep in mind when I edit, especially for future editing. I hope these tips are helpful to you as well.
1. Get Yourself A Hard Copy
It will be much easier to use, in addition to a digital document. You can have one chapter open on your laptop while flipping through the pages of your hard copy. This hard copy you can make notes on, joy down your thoughts, and so much more. It’s also extremely satisfying to see your hard work in paper form. Often hard copies help us catch mistakes we do not catch prior.
2. KEEP Your Test Readers’ Feedback
This is easier to do when people respond through emails. But if you use Google docs, keep your comments. If you talk in person, try to keep a record of specific things your reader suggests or takes an interest in.
When going over each chapter keep in mind questions your readers have. Also, some readers may create some amazing twists for you simply because something is not quite clear to them. I cherish feedback because it often challenges me to fill in gaps I did not realize were there.
3. Are Your Characters Naked On A Blank Page?
Okay, bear with me, what I mean by this is simply are you keeping your reader up to date with clothing changes and scenery? Personally, clothing description is not something I usually take time to care much about. However, not all readers think like I do. It’s beneficial to make sure you are painting a scene.
If characters have a particular style they tend to stick to, then talk about that in the beginning. This will help the reader picture better, and it also allows you room to put a focus on other characters who put more thought into clothing choices.
Remember that clothing, whether your character is into clothes or not, ALWAYS reflects something. Personality, status, etc. People who are poor, for example, are their clothes old, torn, ragged, or borrowed? Maybe someone is more practical so their clothes are more plain and comfortable. Big personality or very bubbly/bright, how does clothing reflect that?
As writers, not one detail needs to be tossed in carelessly. USE these details to your benefit.
Scenery is the same. You do not have to be excessive, not all scenes are about the surroundings. Nonetheless, you need just enough for your reader to have a clear picture. Just like clothing style, scenes paint emotion.
I don’t know if you are like me, but every time I write a scene, I see the surroundings in my mind. I do not always write them down, but I think it’s beneficial for me to be more aware of what I see, so others can see it, too.
4. Are Your Characters / Props Teleporting?
They can be sneaky!
First, a character is with a group of people, and suddenly they are now walking up to the same group people they were just with.
Was a prop one place and now another?
The apple lay on the table. She picked up the apple from the sink and placed it on the table.
This is why having a hard copy, sometimes, you need a different pair of eyes to catch what you didn’t see before.
5. What Has Been Hinted At Or Told In The Past
Remember that hard copy? *Whip it out
I recommend, along with your hard copy and your digital copy, you are going to need ONE more addition. A notebook, no, not the computer. Go over each chapter and ask yourself if you see these things:
- What are characters wearing in the scene/how that reflects them (or the situation they are in)
- What are the surroundings and what do they look like?
- Are props or people teleporting or disappearing mysteriously? A prop that has shown up in multiple chapters suddenly disappears. A person is suddenly on the other side of the town.
- What have readers pointed out that could be expanded upon?
- Are there connections made in previous chapters that need to be discussed in later chapters? Are there things previously said or things that happened that shape characters and their reasons for why they act the way they do? Take note and weave within the story.
Hope this is helpful to you! It certainly has helped me!
What tips do you have for editing?