For the past few weeks, I have been busy editing ‘Sage’, book one of the Enchanted Series. With professional help, I must add!
As I finished the first self-edit, I asked other writers for their ideas on editing. A big thank you to everyone who responded. I found myself thinking, ‘Oops, am I guilty of that?’ several times!
I’m sure lots of writers will be aware of many of the issues raised in this article, but I think it is always a good thing to give yourself a reminder in the editing department.
Many writers had something to say about the overuse of certain punctuation, such as ellipsis, commas and exclamation marks. (I used to be the exclamation mark queen; I’m really trying to wean myself off them.)
Verbs like: thought, saw, heard, noticed and wondered also needed pruning as were the words: that, simply, rather, very. I’m sure there are lots more.
Opinions were split on the use of said; some feel said is sufficient, others were against this and preferred to use a variety of words. I go with the latter group.
One of my own bugbears was using too many dialogue tags which can be completely omitted in a conversation between two people, it’s a bit trickier with more than two people, though.
Mahrie G Reid – Writers’ Tips and Guidelines has a helpful article on overusing prepositional phrases in a sentence. I had a look at her website and there are lots of great ideas for writers.
Sentence starters – avoid so and the use of pronouns, vary the starting words and also the length of sentences.
I know I have to check this: repeating words in a sentence or sentences close to each other.
Mistakes in spelling and grammar, except when the grammatically correct way of saying something wouldn’t be used by a character such as ‘Me and Sam’ rather than ‘Sam and I’.
Leila Kirkconnell had a list of useful tips, including:
Identify your own five most used words and see if you can get rid of some of them.
Read your work aloud or get someone to read it to you.
Take out or cut down on pointless words and phrases – adverbs, adjectives, phrases such as: she stood up.
Show don’t tell.
Cut out beautiful sentences that don’t actually contribute anything to the story (Save them for another story.)
There were different ideas on the overall editing; some writers prefer to leave it until the end and others tend to edit as they go along, some do a bit of both. All agreed on standing back for a while before going in for the big edit!
‘If it doesn’t flow, it has to go.’ I fully agree with this. I’m much more critical of the bits that don’t quite sit these days – words or events. If I’m not completely happy with them, I assume readers won’t be either.
Finally, I bet there are so many writers out there who find, like me, that it’s very hard to stop editing and say, ‘That’s it! Done and dusted!’
Happy writing and happy editing everyone!