On Editing

A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and Kristina Stanley volunteered.  If you don’t already follow Kristina’s blog, you’re missing a real treat.  So without further ado, here’s Kristina:


Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.

I have the computer read the words out loud to me. You can also do this with your eReader. I use this method to find where I tend to repeat words. When I read, I don’t hear the words as well. This also works for finding small words that are incorrect. It’s hard to see ‘if ‘versus  ‘of’ but I can hear the difference. The computer also doesn’t allow you to skim, so you have to focus on every word.

I keep a large spreadsheet, so I can check off each area of concern per scene. For example, one column I use is called scene entry. I note whether the scene starts with dialogue,  thought, action or narrative. Having each scene start in the same way could be boring for the reader and this makes me put in variety.

While editing, I check each scene to determine if it is an empty stage. I ask myself are the senses covered. Smell? Taste? Hearing? Touch? Sight? Then I ask myself does the reader know where the characters are physically. When describing the scene, I ask is the description relevant to the plot? If it’s not, maybe some of the description can be cut.

What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?

As I mentioned above, starting a scene the same way. In the first draft of my first novel, my husband asked why each scene started in a doorway. You know the scene, when one character is coming to meet another.   He thought it was pretty funny. I had a lot of reworking to do.

My weakest part of editing is finding my own errors. A second pair of eyes is invaluable.

Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they and why didn’t they work?

I’ve read the advice to read your work backward. This never worked for me. I tend to nod off at the boredom.

Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).

I just released DESCENT (Imajin Books, July 2015). DESCENT is the first in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. BLAZE the second in the series is due out this fall. Below is a short description of DESCENT. If you’re interested you can buy it at: myBook.to/Descent 

When Kalin Thompson is promoted to Director of Security at Stone Mountain Resort, she soon becomes entangled in the high-profile murder investigation of an up-and-coming Olympic-caliber skier. There are more suspects with motives than there are gates on the super-G course, and danger mounts with every turn.

Kalin’s boss orders her to investigate. Her boyfriend wants her to stay safe and let the cops do their job. Torn between loyalty to friends and professional duty, Kalin must look within her isolated community to unearth the killer’s identity.

Rachel, thank you for hosting this blog. I look forward to getting and collecting other editing ideas from your readers. There is always more to learn.

Kristina Stanley

You can find me at: Blog | @StanleyKMS | Facebook | LinkedIn | Google+


Thank you, Kristina, for such awesome tips!  Now, who’s up next?  If you’re game, please contact me at:


40 thoughts on “On Editing

  1. Wow, Kristina…a scene spreadsheet — that is labour intensive!
    Rachel, I’m game to be next! My best tip is that after the first draft I change the colour of text. I write in black and will make it blue. Re-reading in a font/colour that I’m not used to forces my brain to actually read and see the words, vs. skipping over them. Once the chapter has been reviewed and approved, I change it back to black. This tip was given to me by Barry Dempster, an award winning poet and author and I love it! The added bonus is that you can easily see where you left off (though I do use Find page). On the third go-round, I change the font, from Times New Roman 12 to another, Calibri or Arial. It’s all about tricking the brain!

  2. I read my first manuscript out loud for the same reason you mentioned above. Next time, I’ll have to try letting my computer read it to me!

  3. Pingback: Do you want a great tip? | jean's writing

  4. Editing is the hardest part of the process for me. I have had both good and recently apalling editors and learned that I have to listen to my own inner voice. If I feel a scene/sentance is wrong, then it probably is. I also think editing has to be done at a distance of many weeks. Re-writes can be done on an as-you-go basis. I’ve just returned to the final edits of my 3rd Victorian crime books after a couple of months. Amazing what you pick up!! Even after it’s been through 3 different pairs of eyes, there are still tiny errors. The writers who think they can just do a read-through and then self-publish are fooling themselves!!

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