10 Things I’ve Learned About Editing

  1. Spell check is not optional. You can read over your manuscript three dozen times, and you still won’t catch all the typos. Guaranteed.
  2. Dialogue rocks. So does describing the setting. If you forget where your characters are, don’t go back and check to remind yourself. Add more setting description. If you forget, so will your readers.
  3. Commas are useful, but often not necessary. If you have more than three commas in a sentence that does not include a list, they’re not necessary.
  4. Sci-fi and fantasy allow you to break the laws of physics. But when you break the laws, everything still has to make sense and be consistent. If it doesn’t, you’re compromising the integrity of your world.
  5. Don’t capitalize unless you absolutely have to. The most annoying thing in the world is to read a sentence like this: “Then Antiloch, Son of the Desert Guru, rode forth on his mighty Andalarian Prancer to aide the Chandoran Sages in their Abolition of the Tyrant King Zandif of Kardovak.”
  6. Tightening your phrasing is good. Cutting out a great sentence for the sake of tightening your manuscript is not. Be careful with what you cut and what you keep.
  7. You’re the writer, no matter what your editor thinks. If you like something, then keep it in the manuscript. But figure out why your editor wants you to cut it first, just in case they’re right.
  8. When you read something and think, “This sounds a bit weird, but I don’t really want to change it”, change it. It will sound weird to your reader too, and they will enjoy the book less because of it.
  9. If your editor asks you why a character does something and you don’t know, figure it out.
  10. Editing is work, but it also has to be fun. If you want to bash your head against the desk, stop editing! Unless you have a deadline. Then you should probably keep going.
Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned About Editing

  1. Thanks for putting these excellent tips in one single post. Liked the sentence in point # 5 though 🙂

    • Hahaha thanks! I was browsing the fantasy section of a book store today, and it seemed like every back cover read like #5. It drives me crazy! Everything doesn’t need to be capitalized to sound exotic and exciting!

  2. Candace Knoebel

    This is so true. I’ve been in this exact same position and felt the exact same way. That’s what kept me going-positive thinking and not being afraid to change. Whatever you’re writing must be excellent. 🙂

    • I very much hope it’s excellent, lol. I’ve been revising the damn–ahem, lovely–thing for about six years now, so if it isn’t perfect yet, it’s at least as close to being there as humanly possible. Positive thinking is the key to writing, without a doubt. It kills me when people say, “Oh, I want to write a book, but I’m not good enough / don’t have enough time / don’t have any good ideas”. Just stop second-guessing yourself and write already! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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