Self-Editing Techniques

MatriarchFrontPageEditors are expensive, but the more you edit yourself, the better you’ll become. Knowing the grammar rules and how to apply them is part of the process; the rest is actually finding the errors in your own work. The more mistakes that you find and correct yourself, the easier of a time your actual editors will have finding the things you’ll STILL miss. Ready…?

  1. Set it aside for a few days for a fresh look – Looking over the same pages, paragraphs and sentences over and over has a peculiar effect on the brain: you’ll start filling in words that aren’t there. Close the book, go do or work on something else, then look over it again and NOT on the same day. If you can wait a week or longer, even better.
  2. Change the font face and text size – A special thanks to Gabrielle Faust for this suggestion! Changing the font up does a couple of things: it makes everything look different as if you’re reading it for the first time (again), including pushing words to different lines to break up the familiar cadence. This helps obvious mistakes stand out.
  3. Edit chapters from the back to the front – Another good way to catch continuity errors is to start at the end and work your way forward. This helps train your brain to wonder how you got to where you ended up; did you forget any important details earlier in the text that would make your story read or flow better?
  4. Let Adobe Reader read it to you – This is one of my best tricks for catching bad phrasing, double words, missing words and more. Compile your manuscript into a PDF and open it with a free copy of Adobe Reader, then select the “Read out loud” option under “View.” A dull and boring computerized voice will read your book to you paragraph by paragraph without anything resembling inflection, but it hearing it out loud rather than reading it again to yourself helps to find lots of glossed-over errors your brain omits.

Remember: many eyes make for easy editing. Different readers will catch different mistakes, so if you have a trusted beta reader with both kick-ass grammar skills and a willingness to read your entire book, take them up on it. Never, never, NEVER reply solely upon your own judgement that the editing is done and the book is perfect – I promise you… you’re wrong.

Does anyone else have any other trick that they use? Add them below!


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