Writing is hard. Editing can be harder, but it doesn’t have to be.
Hi, I’m Tina, and I am fresh off the launch of my first book The Anchor of Time and I wanted to share some hot tips that I learned about editing.
First bit of advice, write better copy. This may seem like a no brainer, however after editing my first book–which took six years and many, many rewrites because–I realized I was teaching myself how to write better which made editing easier. But what does that mean?
Show Don’t Tell
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.” –Anton Chekhov
From your descriptions to your characters–show us, don’t tell us. Narrative summary is not an engaging way to get people to turn the pages. An actual scene with your characters conversing is a more engaging way to introduce your world, the plot/conflict, and your characters. When I read a book and there are pages of ‘info-dumping’ instead of clever world building, it’s an immediate DNF book.
Maybe this was more of a problem for me writing sci-fi/fantasy, but writing with conviction and certainty means this phrase is pretty much out of place (unless your character’s POV is unsure) ‘As if’ is a weakening phrase, it weakens the prose and the context it is setting up. Be bold, be certain–this is your story!
This is one that really annoyed me throughout the editing process. So many writers use it: ‘He found that he was unsure of what to do about the party.’ What did he find? Find is such a weird word, I like to relegate it to actual treasure or missing car keys in my work, not nebulous emotions. Look how much stronger the sentence is without it… ‘He realized he was unsure about what to do about the party.’ Realize is a more clarifying word and brings us closer to the character’s perspective.
We’ve all heard it–adverbs weaken your copy. A string of adverbs and adjectives can be confusing and the words can actually detract from each other and the story! They are superfluous and considered by many in the biz (Stephen King among them) as lazy writing. This isn’t to say don’t use them, but use them sparingly and when you do, try to use unusual ones or not overuse the same one. Less is more with adverbs.
Some great books I used for reference are On Writing by Stephen King, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. The best way to become better at your craft is to practice every day, but also research. These books really helped me!
Have an Editing Plan
To all my indies out there, before you publish, hire a professional editor! This will help the manuscript so much, and it will give a professional touch. EVERYONE NEEDS AN EDITOR. No one writes a perfect first draft, and if they say they do, well then they’re selling something.
On my first book I had it professionally edited twice and at the very end, I tried to cut corners and let a very gracious family member (who offered) do my final proof read… but if you’ve never proofread a 90k document in Word before… let’s just say I recently hired someone and am doing a second edition this year because cutting corners just isn’t something to be done with a final proofread (I thought I was safe because I had it professionally edited twice, but no).
I also realized that my editing process would really benefit from a final proofread after the ARC read is complete and I get all my final feedback. Now that I’ve done a book from start to finish, I have an editing plan for my second book:
- Finish Rough Draft
- Self-edit until you are satisfied it can be looked at and understood by another reader…
- Professional edit, development and structure.
- Self-edit/add additional copy based on feedback.
- Beta Read, get some trusted friends to read it and give their feedback.
- Self edit based on feedback. Could also hire an editor to do line edits at this point.
- Release it into the wild with an Advanced Reader Copy. At this point the manuscript should be close to polished and ready for publishing.
- Final Proofread! Hire someone, I think it’s worth it…
Thanks for reading, if you want to follow along my writing, editing and publishing journey this year, find me on Instagram @tinacapricornwrites