Some Overall Tips for Self-Editing

This is #2 of a series of 5 posts with tips and tasks related to self-editing. See the links at the bottom of the post for other articles in this series.

Check out this picture! Lots of amazing books on writing that will also help you with your writing. Meanwhile…

Some overall self-editing steps and tips:

  • As you self-edit your writing, expect to do several drafts and rewrites. The best writers generally are ones who do the most revising and editing. You should have completed several self-edited drafts, and engaged several beta readers, before bringing your work to a professional editor.
  • Before you sit down and start looking for grammar, spelling, punctuation and other “technical” issues, you will want to first reread the entire manuscript to yourself—ideally once through silently, then again through, but this time aloud. By reading aloud, you will pick up on issues of clarity, cohesiveness, and readability.
  • As you find these issues, write notes to yourself in the margin. Then go back and “rewrite” to correct these “big issues.” At this point, after your initial rewrite, ask others (beta-readers, writers’ group members, a writing partner) to also do a read-through for you (and offer to do the same for their writing!).
  • Again, rewrite, taking into consideration the suggestions of your helpers. When you feel you’ve done your best on the big issues, you can then go through and proof-read/polish up the technical issues. Then ask someone who is good at spotting these small but important issues to do a proofread for you.
  • Now it is time to work with an editor! And yes, you’ll probably end up doing 2 or 3 more rewrites–but when you’re finished, your work will be ready to submit to a publisher, or (with a final careful proofread) ready to self-publish.
  • Remember, when you are doing your own editing, it is essential to review your manuscript as if you were not the person who wrote it. Be as objective as you can; pull away from your emotional attachments to the piece. Often, our passion for our topic which can be very personal, making us vulnerable to being self-indulgent and losing objectivity.

What other overall tips do you have for self-editing?

Please add your tips in the comments below. Thank you!

The posts in this series, Self-Editing Tips and Tasks, include:


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