Challenge Yourself: Editing
The final blog in the challenge series by DragonSoulJess
Want to edit your work but you don’t know quite how to do it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
I’ll start off by saying that there are loads of editing tips and blogs out there, so this is just a compilation of tips I find really useful, and which could help you in getting started.
If you’re looking to do some proofreading, there’s a useful website here with some great tips. It also has some great editing advice and awesome ideas detailing how to get into the correct mindset, so it’s definitely a page to bookmark!
But where do you start? Editing can seem scary, so I find it helps to break it down into little pieces. It might help you to make a list detailing the things you want to make sure you get right, which I’ll cover in a little more detail later on. It can also help to go through your work multiple times, perhaps the first time for larger content edits to make sure your plot all makes sense, then going into smaller details such as keeping characters in-character, then the finer things such as word choices. You might find it helps to make a list first, and then you can group things together and edit those in one go, then move on to the next group. Or, of course, you could just go through slowly and carefully and try to tackle as much as you can in one go. Different things work for different people, so figure out what helps you and go with it.
But what do you need to look out for when you’re editing? There’s quite a few, so these are just some of the things you need to check you’re getting right. I’ve put them into different paragraphs based on how I like to group them to organise my own editing, but you might want to group them differently :)
Firstly, editing the content of the novel overall. Does your story make sense? Does the plot? It helps to do a larger content check, which ensures everything flows chronologically, there aren’t any loose ends and your character arcs all work out. I find it helps to go through my work and write a few sentences about what happened in each chapter. From this, I can see how my plot progresses, where I need to speed things up and take out unnecessary content, and what’s happening to each character. You could even colour-code what’s happening based upon your plots and sub-plots. If your protagonist has a secret which affects a sub-plot, maybe highlight all information about this in green – this will help you figure out if you’re giving an overload of information about one sub-plot or if you’ve been neglecting it for too long.
What’s next is a little more focused – editing the chapters rather than altering the content of the whole novel. This will be looking at each scene or chapter individually and figuring out how to make it better. You can figure out if the actions and words your characters make are actually true to who they are. If something isn’t important, cut it out. Make sure that something has been achieved by the end of each chapter to further the plot.
After this, you can move onto the finer details, looking at paragraphs and sentences. Word choice, metaphors, exactly what is written and how you can make this better. This step is to make sure your writing flows perfectly and is generally amazing – the icing atop the cake, so to speak. You’ve sorted out the content, so now you need to make it all enjoyable. This step probably includes proofreading, though there’s more information about this on the site linked at the start of this blog.
So now you know what to look for, here are some other tips I’ve found to be useful:
1. Don’t edit right after you’ve finished drafting. Give yourself a break (some people suggest a fortnight or even a month) to make sure your mind is refreshed and ready to spot mistakes and problems when you return to your work.
2. Reading out loud can help you spot mistakes – hearing your work gives you another perspective, after all!
3. Before you go into your work chopping and cutting and moving things around, it might be best to keep another file with your draft. This way, if you realise things were working out better before you started attacking everything, you’ve still got a back-up copy and can change things back.
4. Getting other people to read your work can be scary, but sometimes having another viewpoint can really help. And with the awesome and helpful community on Movellas, there’s nothing to be scared of!
5. Our very own Rhapsody mumbled an awesome editing tip which I shall leave here for you: Imagine you've got Cinema Sins critiquing/nitpicking their way through your plot and characters, because seriously, it actually helps when you have some snarky comment running through your head about something illogical in your story.
And with that all said, good luck with your editing! If you’d like any help or you want to ask some questions, the #ChallengeYourself group is always here.
Any editing tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!