Editing Tips

March 9, 2015

I can’t tell you how many manuscripts I have now read which have errors in grammar, spelling or formatting.  Why bother submitting it if you don’t care enough to make sure it’s correct?  If you don’t care then why should a publisher?  I suppose if the story is awesome someone might overlook a spelling error but I wouldn’t count on it.  You may find that errors will overshadow the best quality. 

Regardless of whether or not you have a degree in English or have vast experience writing reports or policy at your job you should never rely on your own final editing.  The only way to ensure accuracy is to have a second or third person review your manuscript.   Never neglect the spell and grammar check on your computer but don’t solely rely on it.  This should only be your first step in the review process and compliments your own review and the editor’s review. 

The editing stage will most likely result in some revisions.  Perhaps the revisions are only fixing spelling, grammar or formatting however it is quite possible that the individual(s) you have reviewing your manuscript prior to submission have identified confusion in parts of the story, poor dialogue between characters, or scenes that do not make sense.  The revision stage can be very frustrating for authors as you have no doubt already spent months or years writing your manuscript.  Although it is not easy to hear criticism and it is understandable if you feel impatient throughout the editing and revision stage however it is a vital component to writing and publishing.  It can mean the difference between getting published or not.  The last thing you want as an author is for someone to purchase your book and note an error when they post a review.  Your reputation as an author is at stake.

Editing Tips:

Typically you will end up taking 10-20% out of your final manuscript just by editing for clarity, flow and logic.

Ensure you understand each character’s point of view changes.

If you are using technology, machinery etc. check for technical accuracy so you do not offend those who know what you are talking about.

Read parts of the manuscript aloud.  In particular, read the dialogue between characters and fix any that don’t make sense or don’t sound authentic.

Avoid very long paragraphs.

Point of view slips should be fixed.  A point of view (POV) slip happens when the author slips out of the character’s head to reveal something the character cannot be experiencing directly.  It should be obvious who is speaking to the reader.

Avoid names that sound or are spelled too similarly.

Avoid using too many adjectives. And, of course, avoid adverbs.

Check for words you may have unintentionally overused. E.g., “Suddenly. Said.”

Make sure you are using your proper nouns, people, places consistently.  Keep a list and refer to it often.

~ Booksyeah Book Review Team