TURN YOUR EDITOR ON! or, TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SELF-EDITING YOUR MANUSCRIPT
with author Kathryn Jane
Whether you’re self-publishing or submitting your work to a publisher, you need to polish the dickens out of that manuscript before you send it off into the big bad judgmental world!
Today, I’m sharing some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned online (and also from conference workshops with brilliant, hilarious and talented authors such as Cherry Adair and Anna DeStefano).
Editing your own work is incredibly difficult because you already know what you intended to say, and you know what comes next. After all, you and this manuscript have been intimate for months J
I’ve put together a collection of helpful ideas to get you past that smart brain of yours and give your eye a fresh view of a manuscript
- CHANGE WHAT THE MANUSCRIPT LOOKS LIKE — If you’ve only been looking at the words on your computer screen while you write, it’s time to print a hard copy.
Now get out a big bright highlighter and sit down to read it through as though you’re a reader. Whenever you bump into a place you want to change/fix something make a mark and move on. Do not stop to do an edit. Once you get to ‘the end’ you can go back to your file, start at the last page and work backwards making changes and corrections.
Note: If you start at the beginning, after the first few changes, your page numbers will become useless to you. But working backwards leaves your page numbers and locations in tact even if you delete words.
Done? Good. Print a second hard copy, but this time change the font to something visually quite different. If you work in Times New Roman, try printing in Calibri. You’ll see it looks very different and you may be surprised by how many little typos etc. you manage to catch.
You can also trick your eye to see things you’ve missed before by using a colored font.
Concerned about trees, or dollars spent on paper?
Change your ms to line spacing of 1.5 or 1.15 and use narrow margins. Yes, you’ll have less room to make changes, but by the second pass you shouldn’t need the room—just use sticky notes.
Also, when you print the second hard-copy, use the back side of the first. Another good reason to change the font J
On the next run through, read your ms from back to front. I do this a chapter at a time. Read the last chapter, then the next to last and so on until you reach the first.
This serves to take things out of context for you and you won’t be as likely to skim over what you expect to be there. I personally don’t like this method because it feels uncomfortable, but I have to admit it works.
2. RIP OUT THOSE REPETITIOUS WORDS
We all have our favorites. Learn your weaknesses. Keep a list. Then simply use the function for “find” in Word to search and highlight.
As an example, in my last book I took a liking to the word turn in all of its forms, turned, turning, etc. When it was pointed out by a beta reader I went into “find” typed in turn and when I clicked on “highlight all” it magically told me there were 150 hits. Grrrr. I then put a highlight on each one, started at the beginning of the ms and whittled them down to less than 60—thank you “thesaurus”.
In time, you will learn your crutch words. There are lots of resources on line for looking up the most common ones to watch out for.
Ask your beta readers and critique groups if they notice overused words in your work.
3. CHARACTER CONSISTENCIES AND POINT OF VIEW
Want to check for character consistency? The simplest thing to do is separate POVs. You can do this by going through your ms and doing a copy and paste of each character POV, paste into separate files and keep everything in chronological order. Once you’ve done the entire ms, sit down and read each of the files through from start to finish. What you should be seeing is the story as each character experiences it. This technique can be pretty darned eye-opening J.
Another method is to assign a color to each character POV and always type in their color. This allows you to then shrink your document to about 17% which easily shows you 14 full pages of text. At a glance you can see POV changes, and the balance of your POVs. If you use this method, you can also then read through the ms one character at a time, simply by scrolling past the other colors.
4. THE EASIEST WAY TO GET A BETTER VIEW OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT
Leave it alone for a few weeks. I mean completely alone. Don’t read it, don’t tweak it, don’t open it up to just check one thing you’ve thought of. Leave it alone. Work on something else. Read a book or two.
Then sit down and read it from cover to cover without doing any editing. If you must, read with a highlighter in your hand and stroke, circle or X where you want to come back and fix/change something.
5. SO YOU THINK YOUR MS IS READY FOR EYES OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
Before you hit send do one last read through, but this time, read it out loud. If it passes that test, sent that child out into the world!
I hope some of this information was helpful for you! I’ll be stopping in throughout the day to answer any questions you may have.
Award winning author Kathryn Jane writes about the kind of women she’d like to hang out with—smart, self-reliant, think on their feet ladies who are just as happy eating a loaded hot dog at a ballgame as they are sipping champagne in the back of a limo.
Daring to Love
Sparks and innuendos fly when two Etcetera agents with a sizzling romantic history and extra sensory gifts are forced to work together.
Liz has barely recovered from a soul destroying rescue mission when a child’s telepathic cry for help rocks her world. Having the ugliness of her past exposed, being obligated to work with a man she’s kicked to the curb, and discovering her scam-artist mother’s involvement in the case, are just a few of the complications slamming her up-side the head.
Galen is a man of many talents. His special method of interrogation could give them all the answers, but will drive the infuriating love of his life further away.
Liz and Galen will do whatever has to be done to find the missing child, but they both have their own agendas—which may or may not include daring to love.
The Intrepid Women Series is a collection of books about women who do. In gumboots or stilettos, astride a horse or an ATV, aboard jeeps, limos or helicopters, they do what needs to be done, like it or not. They’re survivors. And so are the men who dare to love them.