The Importance of Editing

by , Sunday April 23, 2017
The Importance of Editing

The Importance of Editing in Publishing

With 5 tips to get you started! Written by Molly Looby



I am so excited to have been a part of the Sony Audio Stories Project, and I’m so glad we can share the excitement with our Movellas friends!


My involvement was a little different. I was the editor behind some of the stories, and it’s incredible to work with Movellians’ stories, as they’re the best! (I might be biased.)


So isn’t this a perfect chance for me to shout about the power of editing?


Editing is as integral to writing as getting the words down in the first place. The sooner you learn this, the sooner your writing will improve. Editing turns something good into something great.


I have 5 top tips to get you started with editing. Don’t worry, it’s not so scary!


1. Don’t edit right away.

When you first finish a story, you’re blind to its faults. You’re in the ‘honeymoon’ stage, and you’re just pleased you got to the end of the thing. This is not the right time to look at it objectively. Take a break. Catch up with friends. Catch up with sleep. Catch up with homework. I would suggest leaving your story for a least a month before looking at it again. Realistically, you should leave it even longer. The longer you can leave it alone, the more objective you will be able to be.


2. Start something new.

I find the best way to be objective about an old work is to start a new one. Once you fall in love with a new project, your old one won’t seem so perfect any more, and this is exactly what you want. Writing something new will open your eyes to what you would do differently about old works. And because you waited before editing, you can do just that!


3. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings!

I must admit, I love cutting things out of my stories, but that’s because I’m a seasoned editor. There is always something to cut, be it a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a sub-plot, or a character. Don’t be afraid of it! If something’s not working for you, it likely won’t work for the reader either. Cut for clarity. Cut for pace. Cut anything that doesn’t fit. If you don’t want to lose great work, cut it and paste it into a new document where you can go back and read old bits and pieces. I have one of these as I’m something of a writing hoarder. But interestingly enough, I’ve never looked at it. Those parts might not be as important to you as you might think. But it’s still a comfort to keep them safe.


4. Get a friend to take a look.

You could be the greatest writer in the world. You could be the greatest editor in the world. But you can’t do it all alone. You can have the clearest head you’ve ever had, but it’s still not right to totally self-edit a work. You need someone else to have a read. After all, you know more about the story than is written down, and something that you think is clear might not make any sense to a reader. Having another reader really does shine the light on what they love and want to see more of, and what they didn’t like so much and want to see less of. This is the most valuable feedback you can receive. And the great thing is, anyone can tell you what they loved or hated about something, even if they know nothing about editing and writing. Movellas is fantastic for this as everyone on here loves reading stories! Ask your readers to be as critical as they can be and take it all in your stride.


5. Read aloud.

Reading aloud is a great way to catch all sorts of mistakes. Typos and the wrong tense jump out at you when you slow down and read aloud. Reading aloud is also the best way to figure out if your dialogue is realistic enough. As you’re reading it, does it sound like something a real person would say? I also find that reading aloud has me questioning different sentences than when I read in my head. I can’t say why that happens, but use it! Sometimes hearing it is totally different to reading it in the safety of your own head. If you’re cringing, there’s a reason. Go back and find what it is and change it.


See? It’s not so hard. You can do it. Editing is just like everything else; practice makes perfect. So get your editing hats on and give it a go!


Anyone got any other great editing tips? I’d love to hear them!


Thank you to Molly Looby for writing this blog and Prodigy for designing the banner

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