ROW80 Update – 4/22/12 – 10 Self-Editing Tips

Welcome for ROW80 Sunday check-in!

I’m getting around a bit better this week but, I’m reluctant to show my DH how much I’ve progressed. Shh! Don’t tell him but, I’m really loving the extra time I have to work instead of being interrupted by cooking and cleaning. πŸ™‚ I guess I’ll have to get back to the routine eventually soon, but for today I’ll let him continue to bring me my meals.

So, here’s how my week went:

  • Write on short stories in progress 3 days/week with a weekly goal of 2000 words. Met my goal but just barely. Had one day out of town which shortened my writing days to 2.
  • Plot outline of a novella series idea. Work is continuing on this–more character sketches, music soundtrack and plotting the 1st in the series.
  • Begin the publishing process of at least one short story. This will hopefully happen in June.
  • Exercise 5 days a week – at least 30 minutes each time. Same as last week-no lower body due to my injured foot, though I did hobble around more than last week. Did more upper body stretching and weights.
self-editing, red pen

Photo courtesy of DarinCalhoun.blogspot.com

I’ve been self-editing a short story, scene by scene, and have been making note of ways to do it well. These are my tips from my own experience:

  1. Decide, before beginning to write, how you will self-edit: As you write; As you complete a chapter or scene; or At the finish line. Then stick to that.
  2. Use spell-check but realize it doesn’t catch mistakes like use of the wrong word or a missing word.
  3. After you have read through once, read again backwards to catch mistakes.
  4. Read your MS aloud to find holes and out of sync scenes, or have your computer read it back to you using Word’s speech feature.
  5. Use the “find” function for all the usual over-used words such as: adverbs, ‘to be’ verbs, as, should-could-would, it, there, so, because, very, really, a bit, quite. I guess the complete list would be a whole blog post. πŸ™‚ Here’s a link to a writing consultant’s list of over-used words.
  6. Try not to repeat descriptive words–at least, not in the same scene.
  7. Try to eliminate some use of he said/she said by showing the character in action along with his/her dialogue.
  8. Sometimes breaking a long sentence into two shorter ones has more impact.
  9. When reading, pay attention to and make notes on some of the powerful language other authors use. Try to find the perfect descriptive words for your MS.
  10. Pull out any chapter in your MS. If it’s so great that it can stand on it’s own, you’ve done well. If it feels weak, incomplete, boring…rewrite!
    Self-Editing for fiction writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King


If all else fails, consider referring to one of my favorite craft books, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

How did your week go? Do you have self-editing tips to share?

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14 thoughts on “ROW80 Update – 4/22/12 – 10 Self-Editing Tips

  1. I’m amazed Marcia! How do you find time to do it all? I believe it helps when someone else does the cooking/cleaing! LOL. My Joe has been dieting and therefore more involved with cooking meals and usually offers to make dinner now. Gotta say it’s allowed me to get more done. But I’m still catching up on emails, reading, and blogs. Sadly no writing on the WIP yet this week. Keep up your good work! I’m rooting for you come June publishing process!

    • Hi Diana, if you have Windows XP or Vista, click on Start, then Programs, then Accessories, the Accessibility, then Narrator. To change its settings, go to Control Panel, Speech. Then you can change the volume, which speakers to use and the voice. Mine only has one option for a voice, though. Naturally it’s a monotone male voice, but if you listen you’ll catch missing words in your story.
      It was originally designed for visually impaired. Have fun with it!

  2. Glad you’re feeling better. Good for you, getting in that writing despite it all. Thanks for the self-editing tips. Number 10 is a gem, and what I’m using in this final round of edits.

    Have a great week, and get that foot back to work. πŸ™‚

  3. Oooh, I know how icky foot problems are ~ definitely milk it! In the long run it will be better for your foot. Seriously.

    I haven’t tried reading backward. I’m assuming you mean from the last chapter to the first? I can’t see trying to read a sentence from the period to the first word. That seems strange. I also need to read my book aloud. So far, I’ve just done quick find searches for overused words (I’m an ‘as’ and ‘and’ slut).

    Your tip about stand alone chapters is spot on! I just found one the other day that at the end of it I was thinking, what did this tell me? Does it further the plot or is it just fluff. It was fluff so out it went.

    Feel better darlin!

    • LOL! If you’re and ‘as’ and ‘and’ slut, then I’m a ‘so’ and ‘quite’ ho!
      Hope the revisions are going well. Thanks for the well wishes, sweets!

  4. Glad to see you are recovering, but I’ll not tell on you (shhhh). Great tips on editing, definitely have to read for syntax because no checker will find those errors – reading backwards is a new and novel idea I’ll have to try out. Can see how that one would make errors stand out from the overall script.

    All the best for the coming week, Marcia πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for keeping my secret, Gene. I’m pretty much a stickler for grammar and punctuation, but miss things like everyone else. So, attacking it in several different ways has got to catch most of the mistakes. Thanks for coming by, Gene!

  5. So sorry about your injury though I’m glad to hear you’re doing better! Now I see I should have milked my broken toe to better advantage, LOL. Love your self-editing list. I do find, as with writing the first draft, that my editing seems to change with each story. How much of that is just finding my process I don’t know!

    Wishing you a fabulous week, my friend.

    • If they are willing to pamper, don’t turn it down! πŸ™‚ I think it will naturally change with each story, Raelyn. Each one is different and we created each differently.
      Right back atcha, sweets, with a fab week!

  6. I would love that time too, Marcia. COoking and cleaning takes sooo much time. It’s part of my routine but when I have an excuse to let it go, I’m surprised at how much time it eats up. Your hubby is really sweet and attentive. You’re a lucky lady:)

    Your self editing list is great. May I copy it and use it at my desk? I love lists. They keep me focused. See ya later, sweetie.

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