Guest Post by Author LaRee Bryant
It’s easy to be so excited about a finally-finished work that you skip the self-editing steps every writer should perform before seeking a professional edit. Don’t make that mistake. There are lessons to be learned when you do a thorough self-edit. Here are some self-editing tips to use before hiring a professional editor (a must if you want to be successful in the extremely competitive self-publishing world).
• Read slowly, line by line – don’t just skim. This will help you see the actual words and sentence structure you’ve used rather than allow your brain to “see” the words you assume have been typed on the page.
• Read out loud – this slows you down and makes you pay attention to cadence and tone. It also helps you recognize if you have created dialogue that sounds natural, and fits the mood of the scene as well as the geographic/educational background of your characters.
• You can record your story as you read it out loud. Play it back and listen carefully to how the words “flow,” whether narrative and dialogue establish the proper “rhythm” for the genre and for your particular story. It will also help you “hear” whether punctuation is correctly placed so that sentences sound natural and understanding is very clear and easy for the reader.
DO-IT-YOURSELF EDITING STEPS
Visual Checklist: (you may want to do each of these in a separate run-through)
• Always look through the manuscript to make sure formatting is consistent throughout.
• New chapters begin on new pages for printed books while e-books continue straight through with no new page breaks.
• Consistent spacing between top margin and chapter title and first paragraph.
• Consistent paragraph indents.
• Consistent line spacing within the text of the chapter (turn off “widows and orphans”).
Spell Check and Grammar Tools on Your Computer:
• Keep these turned on and study each red underline (spelling) or green underline (grammar). You may want to change some of the underlined work. And you may find that some of it (incomplete sentences, words that denote an accent or lack of education, one word exclamations, etc.) is exactly what you want to use.
• Keep a dictionary and synonym finder nearby so you can be sure the words you chose are the ones you really want to use.
• Check to make sure you use consistent spelling for names of people, locations, etc.
• Check for consistency on capital letters for names and trademarked products, style for numbering, etc.
www.prowritingaid.com (small charge per year)
• Identifies overused words (adverbs, etc.) and finds repetitive sentence structure.
• Searches out oft-repeated words and phrases and locates vague, abstract, and complex words.
• An “automatic critique partner” to help you polish your manuscript and write better fiction.
• Finds overused words. Helps you identify “keywords” for use in listings and marketing.
Remember – nothing turns off a reader (whether agent, publishing house editor or enthusiastic reader) more than finding a bunch of mistakes. Make sure that doesn’t happen to the book you sweated blood and tears to produce. Do a thorough job of self-editing then hire a professional for the final read. Only then is your manuscript ready for the publishing world.
Author LaRee Bryant lives in Texas. Her busy life is divided between writing and editing, spoiling her grandchildren, and running an administrative services company for not-for-profit organizations.
LaRee’s recent novels:
Exotic plants, a chronically-curious heroine, a hunky ex-cop and a
rag-mop dog. Oh, and a dead body. “The Poppy Green Mysteries” by
LaRee Bryant are a romp of a read!
Mysteries and murders pop up in Poppy Green’s world faster than weeds in a garden. Pretty, perky, and insatiably curious, Dallas’s budding interior plant care specialist digs her way out of a bumper crop of misadventures with a little help from her new neighbor, ex-cop J.C. Tucker and a feisty little dog named Buttercup.
Life should be a breeze for Dallas interior plan care specialist Poppy Green since her new business is expanding and her new neighbor, J.C. Tucker, ex-cop and certifiable hunk, appears to be the perfect choice for jumping back into the dating world. But, like dandelions in the grass, problems keep popping up.
Available on Amazon: