We're beginning the second week of the Indie Author Spring Festival with a helpful article from author and editor, Sophie Tate, whose mystery book, The Way Back, is free until the 12th of April. So, if you're an author struggling to dive into the editing stage of your manuscript, have no fear — Sophie knows 'the way back' to get on track!
Regardless of what you’re writing or whether or not you’re working with a copyeditor or proofreader, a self-edit is essential in any writing process. As a writer, it’s really useful to be able to edit your own work. So, here are some tips to help with the process.
A fresh pair of eyes
Give yourself a break from the screen before editing your work. It’s so important to distance yourself before going back to it. I personally give myself at least 12 hours away from my work before going back to edit it. This gives your brain a bit of a refresh and allows you to forget what you’ve written, and that can make it a lot easier to highlight the errors in your writing.
Read out loud
This allows you to not only read your work but to hear it too. This technique is great for finding any errors that you’ve missed from just reading the screen. It can also help if you’re writing dialogue to help you see if it flows well or if it needs some work. If I could only recommend one technique, it would be this one. It allows you to rely more on some of your other senses and not just your eyes.
Two separate spaces
This is definitely a mental change but it does help a lot of people decipher between the writer in them and the editor. So, set up two spaces, one for writing and one for editing. Now, this doesn’t need to be something dramatic; it could literally just be sitting at the dinner table to edit and at a desk to write, for example. I think this is a great idea, especially if you have the capacity to do so. While studying, in the process of writing my dissertation, I would sit on my bed to write and then when editing, I would move to my desk. Although it doesn’t seem like much, it did make a difference to me. I think it helps create a different mindset for each role.
A different format
This is where you write on a screen and edit on paper. This is a really popular technique and in an ideal world, it works really well. However, this isn’t great for the environment. If I did all my editing on paper, I think I would take down a whole forest. Therefore, if this is something that works for you, perhaps consider only doing this on final edits. An alternative to this could be writing on your laptop and editing on your tablet, etc. Sometimes a small difference like that can really help.
Whenever I’m editing, I change the text to double spacing. This can be really helpful as it stops that feeling that the lines are all merging into one. When you’ve been staring at a screen for so long, double spacing can really help by giving you some more space and decreasing that intense feeling of having so many words in front of you.
What’s important for you as a writer is to find out what process works for you. This will help you with the editing process and allow you to work more efficiently. The only way to work this out is through trial and error, so try everything and see what works best. Sometimes it can be the smallest thing to help you the most.
And finally, I wouldn’t be an editor if I didn’t say it. It’s always a good idea to get a second pair of eyes on your work. After working on a piece (especially something like a novel), you want it to be the best quality it can be, and an editor can help with that. Regardless of who, a second pair of eyes will always be a big help to your manuscript because they are more likely to pick up on errors as they will be seeing the manuscript for the first time. However, it’s always a good idea to get a professional to look at your manuscript no matter what route of publishing you would like your book to go down. There are a variety of different types of edits, ranging from the structural edit to the proofread, so whatever you need, there will be an editor out there to help you.
Thank you for reading. My name is Sophie Tate, I am a freelance fiction editor and also the author of The Way Back (The Way Back eBook : Tate, Sophie : Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store), a self-published mystery/ thriller book. If you have any questions about the editing process or types of editing then please check out my website and send me a message www.sophiesproof.com.