Saturday, November 20, 2010

Basic Editing

Here are a few basic tips I follow when editing. Feel free to add in your own.

1.) Does your character do something too much? Giggle? Blush? Belch? Brush her hair aside? A character only has to do these things a few times for the reader to understand it's part of the character's personality. Brutally cut the rest.

2.) Don't be redundant with dialogue tags. It is not necessary to write, "But why can't I go?" she asked. It is not necessary to write, "She's always gets her way!" he shouted. And a conversation between two people needs very few dialogue tags at all. Don't burden your dialogue (and word count) with he said/she said. Make your tags count.

4.) Be refreshing. Use the search mechanism on your document and find words you use too much. Then visit your friendly neighborhood thesaurus to get rid of boring/over-used words.

5.) Be methodical. Read your manuscript over for typos only. Then read it over for numbers 1-4 only. Then read it over for voice/craft only. Isolating one problem at a time will help you make sure you didn't miss anything.

6.) Above all else: First draft work is zoo dirt. Don't send an agent/editor zoo dirt.


  1. Those are all great tips. Especially #5. I can only edit for one thing at a time myself, so I have to do about 30 revisions just to get everything right.

  2. Melissa,thanks for stopping by! I learned #5 the hard way. As a woman, my first inclination is to multi-task the thing to death. But with writing, it just doesn't work as well as focusing on one itty-bitty thing at a time. For me, at least!

  3. Really helpful advice & thanks for sharing it. I think #6 is funny as I've not heard that term before. I couldn't agree w/ you more!

  4. notesfromnadir: We all know what zoo dirt smells like, so I felt it was a good comparison. I guess I could have called it chapter-vomit. Whatever you prefer, just don't sent it to an agent! Learned that one the hard way!

    Thanks for stopping by! :)

  5. I've only just discovered your blog. I read Of Poseidon yesterday (and loved it). These are some great tips to remember! You have so many super helpful entries. Thank you!