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Editing Tips for Writers

by Caroline Boden, intern

Before sending your manuscript for publishing, make sure to edit thoroughly to ensure your piece is as fine-tuned and polished as it can be. As a guide to what you should be looking for, we’ve created the following list to help.

  1. Check the Content
    • Does your work fall into the appropriate genre?
    • Double check to make sure the word count follows along with it’s fitting range. (i.e., a children’s book should be no longer than 1000 words.)
    • Cut out the dead weight. Any portion of your manuscript that’s too wordy, overused, unimportant or just boring should be taken out.
    • Is there a distinguished plot line? Depending on the genre, there should be an order of events that flows logically.
    • Do you have point-of-view changes? If so, ensure you don’t have too many going on throughout the book that could potentially confuse your reader. Ask yourself—is it obvious who’s speaking?
  2. Enhance Descriptions
    • Utilize the power of the senses. Try for at least two in every scene: visual, auditory, smell, touch, taste. Sprinkle them in. Enhance as much as you can without taking away from the material.
    • If you’re writing a fiction piece, try making the protagonist more conflicted or the antagonist more sinister.
  3. Review Sentence Structure
    • Nix or fix it. If there’s “the awkward sentence”—those that read wrong for a variety of reasons, including lack of parallel structure, misplaced modifiers, etc.—decide if it’s worth keeping and change it up.
    • Stay away from long paragraphs. Readers prefer short bursts of text rather than long text walls.
    • Look for adequate transitions between paragraphs and sentences.
  4. Look for the Little Things
    • Don’t use too many adjectives or adverbs. (i.e., slowly, sadly, badly)
    • Check your metaphors and similes for originality.
    • Be consistent throughout your manuscript. This also relates to your use of proper nouns, or a decision to numerically write numbers instead of spelling them out. Look at your comma usage, too—are you using Oxford commas?
    • Check for words you may have unintentionally overused.
    • Fact check.
  5. Read Your Work Out Loud
    • If possible, read to an audience.
    • You’re likely to notice disconnects you wouldn’t have otherwise by simply reading your work in your head.
    • Do you sound like a broken record? Watch out for repetition!
    • Measure pace; your work should flow.

Write with passion and create your work fearlessly. However, don’t forget to edit ruthlessly. You’ve invested the time to write the manuscript. Be sure to invest the time to refine it.

If you would like some assistance, Bright Sky Publishing offers individual services such as manuscript consultations and editing. In a manuscript consultation, our professional publishers and editors will review your work and provide constructive feedback that can help you improve your story for a chance at publishing. Our editing service includes working with our editorial team to polish your work. For more information, visit our Services page or contact us by email at info@brightskypublishing.org.

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