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7 Tips On How To Edit Your Manuscript

Updated: Apr 7

By: Chloe Mortier

You’ve just finished the first draft of your manuscript? Woohoo!! Take the time to celebrate finally being done because the real work has yet to begin.

A majority of the writing process is actually editing. If you thought writing was hard, buckle up, because editing is that much harder. Now, I don’t mean to scare you off, but would like to give you fair warning that your manuscript may look very different from what it originally was after you’re done editing. And that is something that doesn’t magically happen. You gotta go through your work with a fine toothed comb and kill some darlings. There will be many, many drafts. It’s devastating and can be challenging, but I’m here to offer you some tips to make the process a little easier!

1. Step Away

Take your manuscript, put it in a chest, lock it, and throw it out to the middle of the sea. …Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but seriously, take a break from it. Give yourself a breather, work on another project, go outside since you hold yourself up in your house to finish your manuscript. Jumping right into editing can cause burnout and it will be harder to see the bigger picture of your story.

2. Have Someone Else Read It

As you're taking your break, have someone else, like a close friend or other writers, read it in the meantime. Having a fresh pair of eyes can help point out what is working and what isn’t in your piece. Another person can also offer different opinions or suggestions you would have never considered.

3. Read Your Work Aloud

This can be a very useful tactic in hearing how your story sounds and if there are any clunky sentences. I used to hate having my work read aloud, but I have recently grown to appreciate it because as a person who tends to jumble sentences, it helps to hear where things are getting too confusing. If you don’t want to read it aloud, find a friend who is willing to! And if you can’t find a friend who wants to do that, then you can use the neat little Read Aloud function on Microsoft Word.

4. Create A Plan

Going in blind without a plan can actually hinder the editing process. If you try to do everything at once, then you could become overwhelmed or frustrated. Everyone will come up with their own unique editing plan, but here are some possible methods to try out: reverse outlining, figuring out how often you want to edit (every day / every other day / one a week?), and what your editing goal is (X amount of chapters done by Y day).

5. Developmental Edits

Developmental editing should be one of the first rounds of edits you do to your manuscript. But, let’s take a step back and actually define what it is. Developmental editing focuses on the bigger picture of your story. You’ll want to look closely at the plot, characters, themes, structure, and other story elements to make sure that they are all working together and strong individually as well.

6. Line Edits

Line editing usually comes after developmental editing. This type of editing focuses on the clarity of your manuscript. Move line-by-line to make sure your language is concise and the word choice fits the overall tone and voice of your story. Check the flow from sentence to sentence and cut out any that are unnecessary or cliche. You also want to make sure that there are no grammatical errors.

7. Still Stuck? Seek Help!

If after trying out all these tips and you find yourself stuck, then try seeking out help from professional editors, like Singularity Press! Here, we offer low prices for all your editing needs. 2 rounds of global (developmental) editing is $200, for a round of copy editing and proofreading is $100, and for complete editing (both services) is $250. We want to see your story be the best it can possibly be, so please consider reaching out to us. I wish you best of luck on your editing journey!

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