Editing Tips from Your Favorite Authors

 Young  woman with old typewriter

Becoming a writer is so much more than actually writing the book. Editing is half the battle to publishing, so I’ve gathered some of my fellow writing friends’ best advice about tackling the dreaded editing task.

Editing Tips from Your Favorite Authors

Just as you “become” the characters in order to write about them and their reactions and motivations authentically, “become” an editor in editing stage. Approach your manuscript without your writer-heart emotional attachment to it. Read as if you were an editor…a ruthless one at that. Temporarily divorce yourself from being the one who wrote the piece and instead become the one bent on making it stronger, clearer, more lyrical, and crisper. Pretend you don’t know the characters and the story yet. Does it make sense? Pretend you don’t know what that sentence is supposed to say. Does it? If you can get into the mind of a 90-year-old marathon runner in order to write about her, you can get into the mind of an editor in order to edit. —Cynthia Ruchti

Read the story aloud, preferably to a listener or use a read-aloud program to read it to you. I use TextAloud (from NextUp.com). —Linda Ford

1. Incorporate body language and emotion into every aspect of your writing. By blending the two, the writer shows emotion instead of telling it. 2. Create an antagonistic setting. Consider setting as a character who is working against your protagonist achieving his/her goal. —DiAnn Mills

Read it back to yourself slowly and aloud to catch typos, and then read it on a recorder and listen to the flow of the words. There’s no better way to catch the glitches. —Hannah Alexander

My best editing tip is to read your document out loud or to run it through a program that reads it to you. You’ll hear mistakes like a repeat of two words like “the the” that your eyes will skim over and read as one “the.” —Vickie McDonough

I guess my best tip would also be my favorite writer’s quote: “In your writing, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.” That’s from NT Times bestselling author Elmore Leonard. To accomplish this, take a sharp scalpel to your work. And before you send it in, give your manuscript to several fiction-loving readers (don’t have to be writers themselves), begging them to highlight places that tempted them to skip, areas that bored them, confused them, or forced them to read more than once to understand.  —Dan Walsh

In this busy world of hurry-up-and-publish, sometimes we don’t give a novel time and therefore the writer time to mull over the story to deepen and strengthen it. My piece of advice for editing is to give some time between writing the novel and editing it. That way, the writer can view the material more objectively. —Leanna Ellis

l. Leave some time between finishing and editing the mss, so that you come at it afresh. 2. Do you really need this scene/paragraph/word? If not, excise. 3. Delete all attributions. Substitute beats showing action. 4. Keep a calendar or diary of events to hand, to check back when she said or did whatever. 5. Praise the Lord for a good copy-editor, who is going to pick up all the errors you’ve made! —Veronica Heley


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  1. Many successful authors were able to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack because of unusual writing tips. Thanks for sharing these great editing tips!

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