A while back, I posted a call to all writers who wanted to share their editing tips, and my friend, Amy, volunteered. If you don’t already follow Amy’s blog, you’re missing a real treat. So without further ado, here’s Amy:
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.
With every edit I complete, I re-read the entire manuscript out loud to myself. This way, you pick up on any typos you might have skimmed with your eyes, but get tangled on your tongue. You can also find how something really sounds when said aloud. Would a character really say that? Does that sound plausible? Do I need to do more research?
Also, as I go through my re-reading, I make a physical list of questions that I have for myself when I’m done reading. Sometimes it isn’t the right time to address a major plot change or overhaul, so I write it down and come back to it.
Lastly, I physically make a list of all the words I seem to overuse and search for them in the document, changing a good portion of them to vary the dialogue, pacing, and variety of word choice to keep things fresh.
What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What is your weakest point of editing and why?
My biggest repeated mistake when writing was that I wrote pretty much every single cliche known to man! And I didn’t even know I was doing it until I started reading books on writing. It discouraged me for a while because I thought my ideas were genuinely unique, but alas! I’m better for it now, though, and can see a cliche coming a mile away.
My weakest point of editing is dialogue. I try to make my characters sound realistic, so I try to make them sound like my friends and I (if appropriate), but my friends and I speak in colloquialisms frequently, and those have to go when editing so people know what the heck you’re saying. But I love them and hate to cut them. Because they mean something special to me.
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?
Editing methods that didn’t work for me: 1. (This is usually prior to editing) Making an outline for my book. I have general outlines or notes of things that need to be included in my books, but I feel too constricted by outlines, so I end up tossing them. 2. Changing every single thing my beta-readers didn’t like or requested I change. While I still take their comments very seriously, it is, in the end, my book, and if I want to keep something now, I do. Outside opinions are crucial, but they don’t know what’s rolling around in my brain so sometimes I have to snuff them out and follow my gut. 3. Adverbs. There’s been a lot of adverb-hating people and editors out there, but you really can’t nix them altogether. They’re very useful in middle grade, fantasy, and YA. And I personally, as a reader, like to see adverbs. Not in every single sentence, but people call it lazy writing, and I just don’t see it that way. Don’t go overboard with adverbs, but they’re not inherently evil as some people say.
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 have many WIPs, but the one that is forefront is a middle grade fantasy book about a race of magical beings called phantoms that are on Earth to protect humans. It has not yet been published, but I will be sending it out to a second wave of agents in the next month or so. You can read about it at my blog: phantomwriter143.wordpress.com
If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.
Sorry, Rachel, I can’t think of anything else. Thanks!
Thank you, Amy, for such awesome tips! Now, who’s up next? If you’re game, please contact me at: