Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and the isolation inherent in being a writer can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing comes from the time you have to yourself to explore the depths of your imagination without interruption.
The curse comes in at those times when you can use a little help, such as when you have moved on to the editing phase. Self-editing is one of the most difficult things for an author to do. Once you’ve created your story, you are often so far inside your work that it is hard to be an effective editor.
Though difficult, following these four keys to self-editing your work will have you on your way to a greatly improved draft in no time.
Don’t rush editing
One of the best tips for effective self-editing is to put your work aside for a bit before beginning your edit. The amount of time you need depends on multiple factors (including how much time you have available).
But being able to step away for a time allows you to put some distance between your writing and your evaluation. This is a great way to ensure you get a more effective edit.
Read your work out loud
It may seem a little strange to sit alone in a room reading your own work aloud. But you’ll soon find that reading your work out loud will lead you to discover mistakes more effectively than simply reading the work silently. This is particularly effective for making sure your dialog sounds realistic and natural.
Check all your adverbs
Stephen King famously said that the road to hell is paved with adverbs. And while the situation may not be quite that bad, it is advisable to specifically look at all the adverbs in your work to make sure they are necessary. Often, you’ll find that adverbs aren’t necessary and clutter your writing.
This final point isn’t a self-editing tip at all, but rather to remind you that, often, the best tip is to get another set of eyes on your work. Even at it’s best, self-editing can only go so far. Have one other person look over your final draft if at all possible. They may still catch small mistakes that you have overlooked during your own rounds of self-editing.