E is for Edit

The last stage of writing is one that I have yet to complete, at least for a novel, anyway. But editing and proofing have always been integral parts of my work, so out of all the parts of the writing process, this is one place that I feel within my element.

Editing is not glamorous. It’s tedious and nitty-gritty, and it takes a careful repetitiveness, but I’m OCD enough that I really like it.

So how do I go about editing?

  • Edit in layers, focusing on one type of edit at a time. Grammatical / typographical, consistency, structural, and content edits are good places to start. If I don’t break up what I’m looking for into layers, I miss things. Yes, this means multiple sweeps, but it’s about the only way it works for me. Consistency edits, in particular, can be hard to keep up with, and I recommend charting things like timelines, names, locations, and particular word or sentence stylings you use repeatedly.
  • Grab some paper. If I need to do serious content edits to a section, I sometimes print it out and cut it up into sections. I’m visual, so the ability to physically rearrange text sometimes lends more clarity than a digital format would.
  • Hand it over to a robot. Or rather, a fantastic, free tool called Hemingway. Hemingway marks up text you paste into it, giving you all kinds of feedback. It tells you the reading level, it highlights passive sentences and adverbs, it lets you know when your sentences are too complex, etc. It’s a great way to gauge the clarity of your writing without a second set of (human) eyes.

(These are, of course, just a handful of ideas. Editing is a long, often complex process. And these are just editing tips that you can do yourself; I could talk about critique groups, beta readers, professional editors, etc. for days.)

How do you edit your manuscripts?



13 thoughts on “E is for Edit

  1. When I was in college I found one of the worst ways of editing my writing: handing it to a sore loser of a teacher who had so many personal grudges against the world that he just did not accept anybody’s writing. Each time you took stuff to him for editing he would just completely scratch out all the good paragraphs and leave a couple lines untouched only!
    He gave me a C on an essay that I knew I had written so brilliantly I had surpassed even my own expectations of writing on serious topics (I am the kind of creative writer who wishes to write on her own thought-up topics). I had never received a grade C in my life before and I was badly heart broken. I took the paper to another English teacher in the same college for reviewing not letting them know I already had a grade. I also took it to the writing center and didn’t let them know I had it already edited and graded too. Both gave me an A grade on it and told me they loved my style of writing, accuracy of grammar etc., and my thoughts on paper.

    To be honest make sure if you’re handing the stuff for editing to somebody you know them in person at least enough to know they’ll be honest with you. I had a really bad semester that made me feel really low about my writing and thanks to him I still feel like my writing isn’t up to the mark at times. What gives me moral support and happiness is knowing that he has been given horrible reviews on our university’s website. One of the students wrote he’d rather jump from a skyscraper than take a class with that man! He has probably (and hopefully) been fired now!


    1. Thankfully, I never had a professor that extreme in college, but I have met those kinds of people who aren’t happy with anything, or believe the mantra “you can always improve” to a point that they don’t hand out praise…ever. So sorry you had such a bad experience! Yikes! Don’t let it get you down. I’ve read your posts; you’re a great writer! 🙂


      1. Thank you Kaitlin!
        That mean professor was really mean. Imagine I underlined mean and typed it in super large sized capitals. The semester that followed after I took his class was really challenging for me because I wrote and thought it wasn’t good at all.
        I remember he told us (very proudly) in class once that he had a job of editing books and approving them for publishing and that out of 10 books he would only, if ever, approve 2! I was just staring back at him. In my head I thought, “Yeah right, it must have been somebody like you who rejected J.K. Rowling so many times and I bet those people curse themselves every morning now!”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,
    I really enjoyed reading your article because I learned something new. I’d never heard of Hemingway and must look into it. I used Grammarly for my grammatical edits and autocrit for pacing, word choice etc.
    Visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge 2015
    Patricia at Everything Must Change

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Patricia! I think you’ll appreciate Hemingway and so glad I could help! I’ve heard of Grammarly but have never used it. I’ll have to check that out!


  3. I worked on newspapers for more than 30 years, most of that time as a sub-editor. I always read everything twice; the first time to make sure it made sense and flowed well and the second time to fine-comb it for spelling and grammatical errors and inconsistencies. Your article was extremely interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly how I edited when I worked in newspapers for a little while. And I still edit that way now even though my career has taken more of a PR turn.


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