Wednesday, February 6, 2013

6 Tips to Improve Edits

Six Important Tips I've Learned During My First Content Edits

I thought I’d share some of my content edits trials and tribulations. Some of these tips may seem simple. Some may seem like common sense. But we’re all different and you never know until you have to sit down and edit.

 Editor, Keyboard, funny
  1. A major weakness for many writers is the “passive voice.” Words to avoid: was, were, is, are, be, been, have, do, show, feel, realize, saw. Here are two great web sources to check your own exceprts: Writer’s Diet and Autocrit Also, I suggest doing a search through your manuscript for the key “passive” words.
  2. All authors tend to favor particular words repeatedly. Again, you want to search for these words in the manuscript and pull out your thesaurus to choose better word choices. My favorite words in my latest manuscript have been: glance, look, shrug
  3. Use exclamation points sparingly. It was suggested to me to use one every three chapters, if at all.
  4. You’re going to have to cut or change your darlings. Stephen King said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” No matter how much it hurts, you will have to do it.
  5. Head hopping hurts the brain. When the author jumps from one point of view to another in the same scene, it distracts the reader and pulls them from the story. Keep your scenes in one point of view.
  6. Get up and move. I had a month to edit my manuscript, so every free second I had, I found myself slumped over my computer. Boy, did I regret it later. I had major back pain (writer’s hump). My advice is to have a good chair, sit straight and get up to stretch. Sounds silly, but your back will thank me.

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  1. Excellent advice! I had a heck of a time with head hopping with my first book. One thing I found helps me to keep the POV straight while I'm doing my own first round of edits before sending it in to my publisher is to write the POV character's name in the margin next to the paragraph. If they all match in the scene, then I know I'm on the right track. If there is another POV in there without a clear transition, that part is either rewritten or moved to another scene.

  2. Minorly disagreeing with head hopping comment - it has fallen out of fashion but it was normal in writing in the past.

  3. Wonderful tips. I'd like to add that when you have to use exclamation marks you should restrict them to dialogue. The character is who should have expression, never the narrator (unless it's first person then rules change). :)