My top three editing tips & tricks {Read, Identify, and Question}

typography-751 First of all, happy holidays to everyone! The past month has been crazy busy, with finishing up the semester and taking my finals and juggling on-campus jobs and… Well, the craziness has slowed down for a bit. Thank goodness for Winter Break and (best of all) thank goodness for more writing, reading, and editing time.

Yes, I said editing time. I’ve been working on edits for a historical romance novella, and as soon as that project wraps up I’ll be working on edits for the contemporary New Adult piece I started over the summer. I also wanted to say that I’ve been reading reviews for my last two novels and incorporating all the feedback I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed; you’ve helped me identify what I need to work on in the future and what I should continue writing as well.

Anyway, between all that editing and reading reviews, I realized that I edit my manuscripts differently now than I did a few months ago. Since I’m always on the lookout for editing tips from other writers, I thought I’d share some of my updated techniques. I’ve listed a few quick tricks below:

(1) Read your manuscript aloud. I’ve discovered so many typos or logistical errors when reading my work aloud. It’s also another way to make your work unfamiliar to you, which helps while editing. Your brain becomes accustomed to seeing the same screen and Word document over and over, so actually reading aloud your work enables you to see/hear your words in a new medium.

(2) Identify what you need to work on. Whether I discover it as I read or whether I already know what I need to improve upon, I always try to write down the specific weaknesses of my draft. By explicitly identifying what I need to focus on, I’m more aware of these areas. Recently, my focus has been on world building. I want to create a better sense of transport in my stories, so that means adding more details about the setting and showing how my characters respond to the world around them.

(3) Question your characters. “Dialogue” with them. Ask them questions without worrying about the right answers, at least not right away. “What motivates my hero?” “Why is she doing XYZ?” Once you know what questions to ask, the answers will start to appear in your writing. (Still, in a later draft, it’s best to go back and make sure the questions were answered!) These are the questions your reader will ask too. It’s a way of both reducing plot holes and understanding your characters better.

Any other tips you have for editing? I’d love to read them in the comments below!

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