Whether it's your manuscript, a friend's manuscript, or a letter to your Great Aunt Gertrude, at some point you're going to have to edit. I understand some folks would rather poke out their eyeballs with forks than have to proofread some copy. I'm not one of those. I'm the freak who adores editing. That being said, I've acquired some handy dandy sure-fired tricks to hasten the process.
Read it Out Loud
Yeah, I know. You'll feel weird doing this at first. Yes, you can wait until nobody is home before you start. Reading things out loud makes you slow down and you'll hear the cadence of the words.
Print it Out
Quit freaking out about wasting paper. We can plant more trees if it makes you happy. Print the dang thing out and read a hard copy. I guarantee you'll see things differently than on a computer screen.
Make Sure You're Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed
Editing when you're tired doesn't work. You'll gloss over things, like entire paragraphs. Only proofread when you're jazzed up and good to go for the day.
Give Yourself Time
Reading each words takes time and plenty of it. Allow for that time in your schedule. Rushing through an edit makes for missing boo-boo's and that's the whole point, Hoss.
Find a Buddy
It always helps to have an extra set of eyeballs (or two or three) to read your stuff. You can't catch all your mistakes. I don't care how stellar you think you are, you will miss some errors because the words in your head sometimes mask the words you've actually written.
Shut off the wifi. Shut down your phone. Put the cat outside and kennel the dog. Once you start editing, you don't want to break your train of thought.
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me
two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the
latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti
phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?