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The editing process is long and hard and expensive. This article covers several tips you can use to save money further down the line, so you aren’t spending money for several rounds of developmental edits when you could have done much of it yourself. These self-editing tips will save you money.
Self-Editing Tip #1 Come in like a wrecking ball.
When you start moving through your novel, treat it like a bad video game, like you’re trying to break and crack it until it doesn’t work anymore. This is the type of mentality you’ll need to truly make your story better.
Find the drive and awareness to rip through your manuscript, so you can make it better. Use this time to find things you want or need to cut from the story or things you need to add or move around. These developmental edits are key to turning your first draft into your second, third and fourth.
Self-Editing Tip #2 Dissect it like a surgeon.
With a fine-tooth comb, go through chapter-by-chapter and objectively look at them. Look for clunky sentences and paragraphs, bland dialogue and world inconsistencies.
Create a book bible or story key to refer to when you have questions about spellings that are unique to your book. You’ll honestly be surprised by how many misspellings, overused words, clichés and readability issues you’ll come across.
Self-Editing Tip #3 Sand it down until it’s smooth.
After you go through the chapters, break it down into the paragraphs. For these last two rounds of edits, consider editing from the last chapter backwards, which helps reduce the attachment we often feel when it comes to our novels.
Look at each paragraph and sentence and word and search for word issues, misspellings and clunky sentences.
Self-Editing Tip #4 Spit-shine your manuscript.
Use this last step as a proofread. Go through and see if anything pops out at you. Read it backwards and forwards and consider just reading random chapters at a time until you’re completely satisfied with your story.
This might be the last time you really read it before handing it off to a professional editor, and you’ll want to double-triple check everything is as you want it.
Self-Editing Tip #5 Take it step-by-step, round-by-round, chapter-by-chapter.
When you’re starting the self-editing process, you’ll want to realize that this isn’t a streamlined process. It’s a lot of back and forth and moving around and deleting and adding, until you get everything in the right order. And then sometimes you change it up some more.
It’s best to take it one step at a time. One round at a time until the pieces start locking together.
And after I’ve gone through all these steps, I often still go through it with an online style editor, such as ProWritingAid and Grammerly. My review of ProWritingAid covers all they do, but their style editor offers readability enhancements, passive voice, and excessive adverb usage, all of which are great things to notice and consider when editing your novel.
But how do any of these editing tips save me money?
The more you do now, the less you’ll have to pay someone to do later. Like I mentioned, it isn’t a step-by-step process. Everyone’s work is different, but this will help you dive deep into your writing and move things around until you have everything concise and fit.
Only after you’ve actually torn your work apart, should you have a professional editor poke through and make their own corrections. Wouldn’t it be terrible if you paid someone five-hundred (or a few thousand) dollars and they just gave you those initial corrections that you or your beta readers could do yourself?
If you can take your time and tear your work apart in classic “wrecking ball” fashion, you’ll have the as-polished-as-can-be manuscript that’s ready to be handed off to a professional editor.
My favorite book for brushing up on my self editing is Self Editing for Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King. If you’re stuck and don’t want to pay someone to tell you what to change, consider reading this book. It will help you identify your strengths and weakness in plot and story, so you can turn your first draft into something to be proud of.
What are you biggest challenges when it comes to self-editing? What are you biggest strengths and weaknesses? Let us know in the comments below!