Writing the story is only the first step. Once we finish the rough draft, we need to go over the piece and revise what we’ve written. This is where we find, and fix, mistakes. This is where we correct grammar, spelling and word choices. This is where you open your Writer’s Tool Kit and get out your Editor’s Hat. With that hat, you will need some skills.
Knowing the rules of grammar is an important part of editing. Knowing the meanings of the words you use is another. An excellent skill is to understand sentence structure. Another is how you can use the various parts of a sentence in different orders is an excellent skill to have.
Don’t overlook this step in the writing process, especially if you want people to read what you have written. You want your work to be the very best that you can produce.
There will be errors, but your goal is to keep the errors down. Editing will give you that.
Reading skills are one of the most important of the editing skill set. It’s also the first step in the editing process.
Look for the places where the plot doesn’t work. Don’t fix those places yet, note them down. Critical reading is not actually editing, but it will give you an idea of what you need to fix. After you’ve finished this initial read through, fix the issues you found.
At this stage, you want to fact check anything you are unsure about in your work. If you don’t fact check your background information now, your readers will do it for you. They will let you know or they will never read your work again. So do it now.
Once you’ve done that, read the work again. This time, read it aloud and note the places where you find words that sound awkward or not quite right. Note those words and move on. This is the most time consuming part of the editing process.
Fix the problems you found in that read through. Then read it again, aloud. This time, you will read it sentence by sentence, fixing any typos or grammar mistakes you find at this point. This is a crucial step.
Line by line editing ensures that your work is the very best that it can be. Don’t let it go out in the world until you have done this. This is the place where you find out if you are repeating yourself a lot, as I tend to do. This is also the place where you find most of the typos you’ve made. You will have made them. No one is immune from them. Catch as many as you can at this point and your readers won’t find them for you.
Once you’ve done that, you have reached the point where you want someone else to read your work. They will find the problems you are too close to the work to see.
The most important skill you need in the editing stage is firmness. You must be able to strike out words you love if they don’t fit your work. You will have those passages and your beta reader will tell you what those passages are. Fix them and your work will finally be ready to send out into the world.
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