Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Editing Tips to Spitshine Your Manuscript

post by Michelle Griep
Most folks in Minneapolis are hibernating because of the cold. I don't blame them. It's warmer in Siberia than here. Not even exaggerating (this time).

But I'm not hunkered down because of a nippy windchill. Currently I'm squirreled away because I'm in the middle of edits. It's the ol' pedal to the grindstone, nose to the metal time . . . or something like that. Yeah. Editing is very important. Besides looking for and cutting crappy mixed-up cliches, there are a few tricks I've learned that help the editing process go a little easier.

5 Editing Tips to Spitshine Your Manuscript

1. Have 3 or 4 other sets of eyeballs read your work and offer notes.
This step is essential. You need to know what you're really dealing with because at this point you won't be able to see the trees in the midst of that godforsaken forest you call a manuscript. Is it a masterpiece or a piece of manure? Nab some honest Joes by the collar and ask them for their unadulterated opinion.

2. Read those notes and decide which ones you'll use.
Some comments on your writing are 100% awesome. Others? Not so much. How do you decide which advice to listen to and which to shove down the garbage disposal? You're the author so go with your gut. If adding or cutting something is a hill that you'd die on, then ignore the advice. But if you're not willing to fight to the death over some words, then change them.

3. Decide on a plan of attack.
Now that you've heard back from your beta readers, how are you going to implement those changes? Biggest changes to smallest? Easiest to hardest? Front to back, plow right through, beginning to end? There is no "right" way to do it. The point is that you pick a way and just get 'er done.

4. Be a hoarder.
More than likely you're going to be cutting a lot of unnecessary description, maybe even some dialogue or action, to make the story flow better and trim it down to a svelte form. Open up a blank file and save all that cut verbage. Why? A few reasons . . . you might want to put it back in later when your editor notices a gaping hole. Or you could use the copy as "extras" -- tidbits to toss to your raving fans. Or you might even have a brilliant bit that could go into a different story later on.

5. On your last pass edit, read it out loud.
Sure, you may feel like a babbling idiot reading your entire novel out loud, but trust me on this, it's worth the embarrassment. Your tongue will stumble over phrases that your mind skips over like a freaking little lamb. Why does it matter? Because believe it or not, changing those mouthfuls will help with the pacing and rhythm of the words, if even subliminally.

Once you've completed these steps, it's time to unleash that puppy into the world. At some point you have to call it quits and move on to another project.


chappydebbie said...

Great editing advice. Passing it along.

Michelle Griep said...

Thanks Chappy!

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