Today represents thirtyseven‘s first resource round-up, with a focus on how to edit your own work.
The concept of editing can refer to a number of different activities. The Society of Editors WA offers distinct definitions around each aspect of editing, which include substantive/structural (content) editing, copy editing, and proofreading.
When it comes to editing content, Daniel Scocco of Daily Writing Tips has compiled a checklist of ’34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer’ from other writers that feature editing ideas–eg. cut down on your use of adjectives, and know what your words mean–as well as tips on writing in general. Note: read the comments to this blog post for even more excellent ideas.
Knowing how much detail to include in your work can be tricky, especially when you have spent months or years garnering the information necessary to paint a world. The teensy details may have been important to your own research and understanding, but it is possible that your readers don’t need to know everything you discovered. Last year, Aerogramme Writer’s Studio published a great article on how much detail a story really needs, and author/editor Amanda Curtin posted on why it is important to get your facts straight in fiction.
Many of us miss typos when editing our own work. It can be frustrating for us and annoying/disjointing for our readers, and may even lead to story/manuscript rejection–but did you know that typos can be a sign that you are ridiculously smart and good-looking? [Science says you’re smart; I added good-looking to the mix.]
This Wired article explains the science behind the self-editing blindspot, and Write to Done shares simple tips that will help you clear the weeds from your work, such as resisting the urge to edit as you write and leaving your work to one side for a time.
A technique I’ve been using in recent times is reading my writing out loud. I started doing this when it was recommended by a workshop facilitator in 2013 and, while it does feel silly at first, I have found that it helps me to identify typos, repeated words, and inconsistencies in rhythm.
For specific grammar queries, these sites come immediately to mind:
- Grammar Girl;
- Punctuation Matters [this link goes straight through to Mister Punctual’s summary on use of the hyphen, n-dash, and m-dash]; and
- The Editor’s Blog [this link takes you to an article on writing numbers in fiction].
And, when you’ve shed the detritus but somehow still left the magic intact, you might want to consider sending your baby out into the world. Every month, Aerogramme Writers’ Studio publishes lists of competitions and submissions whose deadlines are approaching.
★ Do yourself a favour: before you submit your story to any journal or competition, seek out the opinions of more than one set of trusted eyes, and do your homework. Read back-issues, research past winners. Most importantly, treat your wins and rejections with equal aplomb [a topic for another post, methinks].
For the rest of this month, I will trial Monday as the day I publish new blog posts. Let me know how this treats you–and please also comment if you can share any links/tips to help others in the task of self-editing.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful week,