I’m currently waiting for the results of two writing contests: Sun Vs. Snow and Agent Match. Sun Vs. Snow has had some fun “Twitter Parties” lately, one of which asked participants on the Twitter feed for their editing tips. There have been some fantastic ones in the feed, so I thought I’d share some of mine. Keep in mind, you have to find what works best for you, but this works for me.
The best thing I ever learned was to read the book aloud. I use a free text-to-speech program called http://www.naturalreaders.com/download.php. You only get one voice but it’s not the voice that matters. It’s hearing your words, which allows you to find the errors, wrong words, missing words, etc. This has been hands-down one of the best things I’ve ever downloaded.
Another thing I’ve found helpful is in drafting. I’m 100% a pantster. No plotting or outlines for me since I never follow them anyway. So what works for me is to get the idea down, first and foremost. I call this pounding out the idea. Once I’ve pounded it out, I let it sit for a while. A week, a month, a year, however long it takes for it to call me back. Then, I do a big picture edit. Fix all the stuff that’s wrong, weird, or not working. Then, I let it sit. I do another edit for “stupid stuff”. This is bad spelling, wrong/missing words, tense shifts, punctuation, etc. The stuff I know how to do correctly but when pounding out ideas, falls to the wayside. From there, I draft to fix plot, structure, characters, etc. Some of my books/short stories will go through five or six drafts, some three or four. It all depends on what needs fixing and what I don’t like. After that, I always do a couple of final polishes before deciding if I’m going to enter the book into contests or query it or enter the short story for consideration.
One of my big things is rules. I know there are many for writing. Words that are frowned upon (like just or that). I’m a rule breaker. BUT I’m also not opposed to those rules. If I think I need a “forbidden” word, an adverb, whatever, I’m going to use it. But if I read it through later and realize there’s a better way to say something or that I don’t need a “forbidden” word, I’ll fix it. I’ve recently tried http://editminion.com to see passive voice, etc., and I highly recommend it. Someone in the Twitter feed mentioned it. And even a rule breaker like me can see where following the rules is important. I’ve really spruced up my most recent novel, which I’m getting ready to query, thanks to that website.
So, those are a few of the things I do. It’s important to use CPs, betas, and stay open minded. You don’t have to like or take every suggestion you get. But really read things over, consider their notes, and think about your story. Querying is all about putting your best foot forward.
Happy writing and happy editing!