Sunday, July 22, 2012

Six Tips to Editing your Fiction

The editing process can be tedious at times. For me, this is a love/hate relationship. I sometimes despise it and sometimes I enjoy it. Here are some wonderful tips (reminders) when you're editing your work. I wish I could take credit for them, but I got these tips from an article I read a couple years ago in the Writer's Digest. Do you follow some or any of these tips?
1. Try not to make things overly complicated. Alyssa once told me to take the plot out of its braid and throw it in a ponytail. Simple, but brilliant. Problem was, when I did this I had quite a mess to comb through.
2. Don’t be afraid. Of anything. If I can delete nearly my entire manuscript, you can axe a chapter that doesn’t fit.
3. Brainstorm several ways to reach each plot point. Choose the most unique.
4. Revision should not impede on your writing time. When you write, just write. Try to keep from listening to your brain’s insults.
5. When it’s time for revision, whittle away. If you can make a sentence more concise, do it.
6.Question everything. I often refer to the following questions, which are tacked to a corkboard in my office:
·         Does the book start with an inciting incident that will force your MC to act, and challenge your MC to grow?
·         Is there is enough emotion, tension, suspense, etc.? Or too much?
·         Is something too obvious? Does something come too easy because you need it to advance the plot?
·         What can you do to make each scene stronger?
·         How can you weed out your cliched sentences and/or ideas?
·         Is there a motivation for each event? What about a purpose?
·         Are you keeping your MC from attaining a goal? This is a must until the ending.
·         Will your reader wonder about or hope for something pertaining to your MC as they progress through the story?


  1. Good tips, Claudia. I'm in the middle of an edit job right now, and am mindful of the need to trim and simplify. Another good tip I read elsewhere is to print off and read your final draft out loud. You soon find all the "bumps".

    1. Hi Elizabeth,
      Yes, printing your final draft is a good idea. Reading the entire MS on your screen strains your eyes. For some strange reason, I always catch mistakes faster (easily) in the hard copy ;)

  2. Great sensible tips!!! I'm terrible in that I edit as I write so never progress very far but then I feel better if the preceding sentence reads better after being snipped or indeed deleted! Editing really takes nerves of steel and determination - especially when slashing extraneous passages and burning redundant sentences!

    Take care

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I used to do that. It was so tempting to go back and read the previous paragraph in order to edit it ;) Now I know better.

  3. Thanks for sharing these.
    That's a handy set of questions at the end, and the corkboard display is a great idea for visibility!

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Glad you find them helpful. I'd take credit for them but I'm just sharing these tips that I sometimes apply to my editing ;)

  4. Excellent summation of your editing process. Mine is quite similar. I also ask myself if the characters are being true to themselves. :)

    1. Hi David,
      Ah, characters! Yes, we cannot forget them. When I have doubts about them, I ask my fellow writers/friends to give me feedback. They're my audience after all ;)

  5. So it's true! You're really back! I mean, for real!

    The tips you've listed are very useful. Thank you!
    Point #4 is the hardest to abide by though, at least for me; my brain always insults me, and when it does, it does so in a very, very loud voice. Hard not to hear... :)

    1. Hi Jay,
      Nope! I'm not back yet. I dind it difficult to write in the summertime. And as you noticed, I've only been posting sporadically.
      #4 applies to you, huh? Well, I have mentors and friends who remind/tell me when my MS is not working out, so I give my brain a rest from insulting me, LOL!!! :))

  6. Goodness, this post could not have come at a better time! I am doing ANOTHER round of edits and rewrites on my MS and it's getting more difficult. I am currently utilizing #3 with my beta readers-- there's one plot point that's WAY too abrupt-- and, of course, #6's questions are all helpful.

    I'll say this-- weeding out the cliches have been fun. I wrote my first draft straight through, not editing once-- and it resulted in an abundance of cliched lines and descriptions. Thank goodness for the editing process. As annoying as it is, it's all about making the MS even better.

  7. Hi Raquel,
    Oh cliches! I used to write a lot of them until my mentors alerted me of their presence ;)
    Having a writers group also helps; they always point out those pesky cliches, LOL!
    Point #6 is so true. I try to apply it to myself even when I feel my MS is finished. Remember there's always room for editing. :)