Thursday, September 26, 2013

Basics of Editing Your Own Work by Sandra Miller

Don't worry, I'll blog about the conference soon. I'll start next week with my IWSG post on Wednesday with a scheduled plan. However, today I've got another guest post for you.

Basic Guidelines in Editing Your Own Work

The quality of a writer’s editing is vital to distinguish a good writer from a great one. If you are fortunate enough to work with big magazine companies or publishing houses, you will most likely have an editor who goes through all your article work thoroughly. But if you are working on your first novel or planning to publish some posts for a blog then you are pretty much on your own with editing.

The fact of the matter is, editing your own work can be a drag. You might skim through your content quickly or even skip editing altogether if you get frustrated. It might even take you hours if you are concentrating too much on the edits. Here are a few guidelines to revising your own work.

Do not edit while you are writing
This is one of the main rules when you edit. It may be tough to stick to this rule but it is necessary. It is okay to pause and correct a typo or restart a sentence, but do not keep going back and deleting entire sentences and paragraphs because you will lose your frame of thought that you need to finish your paper.

Give your writing some time off
Now this might be an odd tip especially if you feel like you are pressured in finishing your writing. But the key is to work on your paper in advance to avoid unneeded pressure. If you are writing a long novel, you can try to put your work aside for a couple days before you start editing so that your mind is fresh. For short blog posts, you can give it a day or two before you start editing. By doing this, you can come up with fresh and new ideas.

Read it in a different format
By physically turning words into a whole different format you can easily spot problems and errors easier. You could try printing out your piece before editing it or transfer it to your e-reader device. By doing this, you can see your writing in a whole different light which could allow mistakes appear because you are viewing it differently.

Structure and content should be edited first
When you edit your paper, try editing the big picture before polishing up every sentence. Try looking for chapters or sections that you need to cut out, missing information that you might need to add in and sections that need to be revised completely.

Try to remove 10% of your words
If you are happy with the flow and shape of your piece, then it is time to start cutting out some unnecessary words. Many writers tend to over write and use more words than needed. Try doing a word-count for your entire piece and try to cut out at least 10%. Remove repeating the same point many times, phrases such as “in my opinion…” or “it is my belief that…” and also unneeded adjectives.

Use spell-check but make sure to use your eyes too
Make sure you run your spell checker on your word processor program. But remember not to strictly rely on spell-check alone because it cannot catch all errors and mistakes. Use your eyes and brain more when you work on your edits.

Try reading it all slowly
If you are at the final stage of your editing, one trick for better revising is to read your piece from end to beginning s-l-o-w-l-y. By doing this, you might run into errors that were not seen when you read it at a normal pace.

Learn to let things go
That is right, when you feel like you have done all you can with your edits, learn to stop and let things go. As long as you feel like you have done your best, then your paper is probably the best that it can possibly be.

Sandra Miller is freelance short story author and graduate of Literature from the NYU, where she wrote for the students journal and tutored students in writing. She recommends authors use professional editing services like--Help.Plagtracker. Now she is writing her first YA novel.


  1. Editing can be tough but it necessary. Glad you stopped by.

  2. Some good tips. (And I actually like the editing phase.)
    We also have to find our own style. I do dive into revisions immediately because by the time I finish writing a manuscript, I've forgotten how it began.

  3. Reading it in a different format is a great tip. I don't know why, but as soon as the thing makes it to physical paper, suddenly the typos all pop out.

  4. These are all excellent tips. I find reading in a bigger font helpful.

  5. Wow, these are awesome tips! Thanks for the great post.

    On a side note, Charity, I finished 'Stellar Cloud' yesterday. I've been following your blog for awhile now but this was the first that I read any of your work. I really didn't know what to expect but was really surprised at how much I loved your work.

    My overall impression was that you are a solid writer. I say this with great esteem, but you earned my trust because your work was so clean and error free, but your stories also unique. They made me think. There aren't a lot of self published authors that earn my trust in such a fast way, but now I can say with confidence that I look forward to reading the rest of your work.

    Thanks for a great book! On my way to review it on Amazon now.

    1. Wow! Thank you Katie! You just make my whole week. I've been a basket case over Stellar Cloud because it IS ME. The Magic Wakes was with a publisher and I feel a bit distanced from it now, but SC is nothing but me (and some amazing Crit Partners).

      Thanks you so much for reading it. I'm heading to Amazon to check out my first review!

    2. Ok, NOW the review is up! I got called away to something, but finally got it up today. Keep on writing!


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