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It’s a cruel business, this writing thing. Just when you feel elated and broadly satisfied that you’ve completed your work of brilliance, you realise that it’s not over. In fact, the hard work now begins.
Editing is as important as the creative juice flowing over time.
There are two main aspects to editing.
- the Actual Words on the Page
- the Structure of the Work
In editing the words on the page we’re looking for simple things like typos, poor choice of words, grammar, sentence construction – that sort of thing. If you don’t focus on the words, they will trip you up when you look at the structure so it’s best to fix them first. It’s also a logical way to approach editing so you don’t go bananas when trying to make sense of what you’ve written. Start with analysing your adverbs (are they really necessary?) then look at any dialogue (tighten it up). Be alert to using words for padding, you know, words that don’t add any value. Finally check out your pacing – is it consistent with the storyline?
Once you’ve cleared up the words themselves, or noted what needs another check, it’s time to have a look at the structure. Does your story begin with a long background or scene setting? Or does it start with action and launch the reader straight into the story? How strong is you main character? Are there too many characters or ones that serve no real purpose? Is the plot consistent? How solid are the sub-plots and how do they inform the storyline? Get into analysing your whole story and especially the first chapter.
Taking out the scissors and red pencilling your manuscript is challenging but you’ll end up with a better book as a result. Once you’ve done your first round of edits, get your beta-readers ont it and give them permission to provide as much feedback as they feel is needed to make your story better and more readable.