How Do I Edit?


Let me count the ways.

Obviously, the first few rounds of edits are all about making sense of my shitty first draft. But after that, I go through my chapters, over and over, each time with a different element of my work in mind. Sometimes I focus on dialogue, and other times I’m more concerned with grammar. I study sentence structure and the use of adjectives and adverbs. I will do a pacing edit and then one that’s all about tone. On and on it goes . . .

Does a writer ever really stop editing? The answer for me is no. At least in my experience with Saving Ben. Before I sent the document to my editor for a manuscript critique, I revised and rewrote until I wanted to throw my computer out of the window. After she offered her perspective, I made more changes before returning it to her for a line edit. By the time I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon, I had memorized my novel word for word.

When I write from scratch, I need absolute peace and quiet. But editing is different. I don’t mind if the television is on in the background. I often listen to music to set the mood for the scene I’m working on. More often than not, I engage my dear friend Alex to read passages to me from my chapters. If you own a Mac, Alex is the best thing ever.

mac computer

  • Go to system preferences
  • Click on Dictation and Speech under system
  • Click on Test to Speech and choose your settings
  • If you prefer to listen to a woman’s voice, there are several to choose from

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 12.55.32 PM

If you do nothing else, you absolutely must read your manuscript in print. I know, it takes a lot of paper and ink, but words look different on paper than they do on your computer screen. Tip: changing your font from time to time helps mistakes stand out. 


For today’s discussion, please . . .

Share your editing tips.

Don't forget


If you haven’t already, check out Rochelle Melander’s guest post, Rock the Write-A-Thon, and enter for a chance to win Write-A-Thon!


10 thoughts on “How Do I Edit?

  1. For typos and grammar mistakes, my hubby reads and corrects. Then I re-read over and over again. I change font, size, background colour and all appearance possibilities a lot just so as to make it easier to spot things. When I’m not sure about a sentence or paragraph, I hand-write it down and play with it for a few days carrying the paper in my pocket or purse and looking at it at different times to see what springs to mind. Then I go over the whole thing again and again. I have never published so I don’t have an editor, I work with it myself, I read out loud to myself, I sometimes record it and then listen to it a few days after to see if I spot any changes I’d like to make and I jot them down.

  2. So, I’m disastrous… I mean, I’ve been writing every day and all…but… I have 4 works in progress and only one was planned for the write-a-thon… but I was working on that when an old character barged into my mind and I had to write down her story, then I got into the children in the park thing that Ashley suggested, which was great and easy to follow, and now I’m also developing that and since that isn’t enough, I wrote an entire short story in the last four days based on The Phantom of the Opera… Why is it so hard for me to stick with one WIP all the way????

    • My suggestion is for you to pick the one you really feel the love with and stick with it for several days. Avoid all thoughts of the other works and see where it will take you. Also take into consideration the plot that will give you the most opportunities.

      • I’ll try that, it will have to be the second I started writing in February, the character from my past that barged in and knocked out everyone else from there. Nasty little creep she is… hahaha
        Thanks Ashley, I must say I’ve never got so many words written in one month and it is all thanks to you and your write-a-thon.

  3. Pingback: Editing Out Loud | Symphony From The Couch

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