So you’ve finished your short story, novel, academic paper, etc, and are ready to start making into the polished diamond you know it can be. Editing and revision is one of the most important parts of creating. Here are a few things that you can do to improve your editing skills on your own.
1) Take a Break
Put that manuscript down and give yourself some time away from it. A few days to a few months of not staring at the same words can give you a fresh perspective very easily. Give yourself room to breathe and have a break before tackling revision.
2) Look at Your Piece as a Reader
Keep an eye on the big picture and imagine what it is like for another person to read your writing. Do characters make sense? How about your plot line? Is your hook interesting and engaging?
3) Review Your Outline
If you prepped an outline before writing, follow it through your first read and see what you missed, what you modified, and what you think still needs to be changed. Outlines help keep track of those pesky sub-plots and the overall arching main plot.
4) Spell Check and Grammar
Run a simple spell check and Grammar checking program! Most word processing programs have one built on but don’t shy away from programs like Grammarly. Reading your writing out loud will also help you catch phrases that sound funny to your ear.
5) Plan Your Editing Sessions
Don’t try to edit the plot, your voice, grammar and spelling, and modifying details all at once. Focus on one kind of editing at a time so you don’t overwhelm yourself.
In the end, self-editing can be a valuable tool for any writer. Hiring an editor is also a valid choice for those who don’t want to spend the time doing it themselves or find the editing process too intimidating.