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Editing: Checklist & Resource Guide

Happy Tuesday writers! We're almost done with August's Editing Series and I can't believe it. It feels like this month has flown by and the end of summer is right around the corner.

Editing is a vital step in the book-writing process. It allows us to take the rough manuscript we've written and polish it into a diamond. However, editing as a whole can seem like a process that never ends. With several types, multiple ways to go about it, and lots of debate over who you should pay to help you, it's no wonder writers sometimes feel confused.

In today's post we're condensing the editing process with our easy-peasy check-list and resource guide.

1. Give it time: Before you start your editing, give your manuscript some time to rest. Whether it's a few days or two months, taking time away from your draft to refresh your mind and forget some of the details will make .

2. Review carefully for errors and plot issues: When looking over your draft it's important to know what to look for. Choose a single error or plot issue to scan for at a time. This will make it easier to catch everything and prevent you from missing problems.

3. Check plot first then proofread: Make sure your plot is in order before you start worrying about proofreading. You'll probably end up rewriting a scene or two to fix any discrepancies should you find an issue, which means that any proofreading you did beforehand would wind up deleted. Save your time and energy by making sure there are no major changes before you search out all the spelling and grammar errors.

4. Enlist the help of a beta reader: Having someone else read your book before its published can provide insight into where your trouble areas are. Beta readers are typically other writers, close friends, or readers who you trust to review your manuscript ahead of time. They can tell you thinks like whether your story has a pacing issue, what characters are the most realistic, and whether your story overall is successful. There's no limit to the number of beta readers you can ask to review your work, so make those phone calls!

5. Use feedback you get to your benefit: Any time you have an opportunity to receive feedback, take it. Whether it's from a beta reader, a mentor, an editor, or reviews, any bit of information people give you is literary gold. Listen to what they're saying and what is becoming a repeat tidbit of advice.

6. Read and reread your manuscript: In order to edit properly, you have to read your own work. Often times this means reading, rereading, and reading again for good measure. No matter how many times you need to do it, it'll only help you make your draft stronger in the end.

7. Strengthen your characters and plot: You'll want to pay special attention to your characters and plot. Finding the gaps in events and the discrepancies in how your character acts and reacts to these events is vital to the strengthening of your story. During editing its important to smooth these out and tie up any loose ends. If you feel your characters need to be developed further, using a workbook like The Only Character Workbook You'll Ever Need: Your New Character Bible by T.M. Holladay will help you get a firmer grasp on who they are and what they want.

8. Consider your sentences: Syntax may not seem like a big deal, but to a writer and their readers, it is everything. The work of a true artist is distinguished by the way they shape their ideas. For writers it is the same, though our medium is words rather than paint. Taking the time to consider every word, every sentence, and every paragraph is what turns a mediocre writer into a great one. To see the difference, here's a little test: Pick up a copy of Stephanie Myer's new book Midnight Sun. Now open Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms. See the difference?

9. Review each scene individually: Last but not least, you want to work on each scene individually. This is an exercise to see how strong a scene is without anything else to lean on. While a book may be strong with all its scenes supporting it, if you pull an individual scene out of it and it falls short of expectations, it means that there is an opportunity there to make your book as a whole even stronger. Doing has the added benefit of being less overwhelming, as it has you focus on editing smaller chunks rather than the whole manuscript at one time.

Now that you know the 9 secrets of getting started, you'll want to have a guide to help you through your editing journey.

Below are in-depth questions to consider while editing your novel. Feel free to copy/paste or save these images for your writing binders.

In the event that you're about to start working with beta readers, you could also use the questions from the Reader Elements and General Questions sections as ones that your readers have to answer about your story. Tune back in this Thursday to learn more about Beta Readers and how to get a group of them together.

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If you'd like further help outside of the checklist I've provided, check out these wonderful resources to help you learn more about editing.



The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes

Editors on Editing: What Writers Need to Know About What Editors Do

The Editor's Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More

The Copyeditor's Handbook and Workbook: The Complete Set

Skillshare Courses:

Click on the blue links below to see details about the class. If you want to enroll, click the orange Skillshare link.

Rewrite, Revise, Revisit: A Guide to Editing Your Book (Amy Stewart)

Complete Proofreading Course: Master Copyediting, Punctuation, and Books Editing Skills (Nitay L)

Novel Writing 101: A Guide to the Creative Writing, Rewriting, and Self-Editing of Your First Novel (David Ault)

Sign up for Skillshare today and you'll be able to enroll in the above classes and start learning immediately. Bonus, you'll even receive 30% off for using my link!

Blog Posts:

Check out these other posts to learn how to make your story even stronger. I've included the links to the general menu pages so you can explore each category depending on your needs.







Using an editing checklist to keep track of the things you should be looking for as you go along can be very useful. It will save you time and keep you motivated. Further study through books, classes, and more blog posts will ensure that you have the best self-editing experience you possibly can. Not to mention it's never a bad thing to become an editor yourself.

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