Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hip Tips and Tid Bits: Editing Your Masterpiece

"I'm a writer first and an editor second... or maybe third or even fourth. Successful editing requires a very specific set of skills, and I don't claim to have all of them at my command."
Lynn Abbey

I'm just going to put this out there now: I hate editing. Really, I do. There is nothing greater than finishing a novel that took you forever to write. Your blood, sweat, and tears went into this manuscript! It is your masterpiece! And then... you have to rip it a part and edit it to death. I hate it. But, as anyone in the writing community knows, editing is just as important as writing that very first draft.

So... the question is, how do YOU edit?
Do you print out a hard copy and red-pen it to death? Do you give it to trusted readers and have them do the hard work? Or perhaps you put it away for a few months and come back to it with a fresh mind?
I've tried all these things and nothing really seems to ease the wound of dissecting that precious (but ever-so-messy) first draft, word by word.

It's hard. I know. That's why I've decided to come up with a list of a few editing tips that may ease your pain, albeit momentarily. While it is a short list, I hope this helps someone that dreads editing as much as I do!

*Write at the end of the day and edit first thing in the morning.
*Read every word, out loud, to yourself. This really helps in finding awkward sentences and dialogue!
*Spend some time reviewing grammar rules every month. (I know it sounds tedious but it helps keep you on your toes.)
*Keep an eye out for words that you repeat too often.
*Cut your words and sentences, don't add! (This one is hard for me but essential in weeding out the good sentences from the bad.)
*Make sure EVERY word moves the plot forward. If it doesn't, cut it.
*Clean out your adverbs. These are those "ly" words that sneak in on us without us realizing it.
*Write actively, not passively.
*I know I've said it before... and I'll say it again... READ! Reading is the best learning mechanism you have when it comes to writing and editing!

For those of you who don't hate editing, what are your tricks, tips, and magic secrets? I would LOVE to hear them!

Kalina Kay