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Adventures in Editing

Last Friday, I submitted my edited manuscript to Inkshares! I hit the point where the novel was not going to get any better until a professional editor got their hands on it. The book is far from ready to publish, but I learned a ton during the manuscript editing process and wanted to share.

I followed most of the suggestions in Intuitive Editing by Tiffany Yates Martin and highly recommend her book.

Editing techniques that worked well for me:

  • Doing my first read-through in electronic format. You want to read your book from start to finish as if you are a reader, not a writer or an editor. I exported my manuscript to a PDF and read it on my iPad, thus eliminating any possible way to try to make changes while reading!

  • After the first reading, I made notes on a yellow pad (à la Stephen King) just as I would after reading any book. I commented on areas of the plot, character development, and structure of the novel I felt, as a reader, needed work. Again, avoiding the temptation to open my laptop and make any changes.

  • Next, I printed the novel and divided it by Point of View (POV.) I put all of Bessie's chapters together, all of Florence's, and all of Mrs. Henderson's. I read each individual character's story uninterrupted. Of all the techniques I employed during editing, dividing the story by POV was absolutely the most beneficial for me. Using my initial notes as a guide, I was able to clearly identify the weaknesses in each character's plot arc. During this phase, I had my red pen working overtime, marking anything I could find from missing commas to gaps in the storyline. This work was still on paper only, marking up the manuscript and adding larger ideas to my yellow notepad.

  • The next step was to apologize to my laptop for ignoring it for so long and implement the editing changes in my document. This included a good deal of new writing as well, to fill in the gaps. I kept the manuscript divided by POV for this stage of editing and I set a schedule for myself as to how many chapters I would edit each day. As Tiffany Yates Martin recommends I did my editing in a different location. I sat at a large table in my family room, not in my office where I usually do my writing. I think it helped to have a fresh, clean, dedicated space to edit. Nothing but my laptop, binder with my edited manuscript, yellow pad, and coffee. Lots of coffee during this phase.

  • Finally, I ran each chapter through ProWritingAid. I have a paid subscription for this tool, and once I learned how to use it, I thought it was excellent.

I hope you find some of these editing tips helpful and thanks for following my journey. The next leg of my publishing adventure will begin when Inkshares assigns an editor to my book. I'll keep you posted.

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