I have decided to start a weekly blog post here on my editing blog called Inspirational Mondays specifically to inspire writers because, after all, editors need writers to keep writing. Otherwise, what would we have to edit? I chose Mondays in particular because it seems we could all use a little inspirational pick-me-up on Monday.
This week’s Inspirational Mondays tip: Editing is your friend!
I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again. – Oscar Wilde
*The following editing tips have been copied/paraphrased from JeanNicole Rivers’ blog post 3 Things To Be Aware Of When Editing Your Manuscript and posted here with express written permission from the author.*
Editing is definitely a dear friend of any and every writer, and it should first be the responsibility of the writer to edit his or her own manuscript as thoroughly as possible before letting a professional editor see it. At the same time, a writer is especially close to his or her work and it can be difficult to detect issues that need improvement. So here are a few tips that published author JeanNicole Rivers shared from her own experience editing her manuscript:
- Be aware of the number of times you use a particular word.
In her post, Rivers shared that she discovered how often she used a particular word only when editing her manuscript. Before then, she had been unaware just how many times that word filled up the pages. I, too, have certain word preferences of which I must be conscious. When I find a word I like, I tend to overuse it and it loses meaning. As a writer, you should be aware of your own preferences and tendencies, even if you must discover them through their frequency in a manuscript. As you are editing, try to replace those overused words with synonyms that best highlight the passage’s meaning.
- Be careful of the progression of the times of day.
Make sure that days and nights progress naturally in your story. Sometimes this may require you to sit down and just read through your manuscript to see how it sounds as a single unit rather than a series of multiple parts. If your story suddenly jumps from lunch time to midnight without a transition of some sort to explain how it happened, you should work on correcting that mistake through the editing process.
- Be consistent with spellings of names.
This one seems fairly self-explanatory, but I admit that this has happened to me before. I relied on a MS Word shortcut to insert the name of one of my characters every time I punched a capital K. It was only much later with the assistance of the eagle eye of a reader that I realized MS Word had inserted the name correctly about half of the time and incorrectly the other half. My poor readers were very confused, thinking that I had introduced a new character that none of them had discovered yet. Consistency is important in all writing and editing, but it is especially important when it comes to character/place/item names so as not to confuse your readers.
Hopefully, these tips can help you become a better editor of your own writing so that you can shape it into the best it can be before you present it to anyone else. As Rivers said in her post:
… a collection of mistakes is called experience and experience is the key to success! – JeanNicole Rivers
The bottom line: Take the time to edit and polish your manuscript. These tips can help you edit your work to produce a manuscript in which you can take great pride.
JeanNicole Rivers dabbles in many arts, including theater, acting, singing, and writing. She is the author of Black Water Tales: The Secret Keepers which is the first in a series of thriller novels.