Step-by Step Editing

Step-by Step Editing

By Natalie Bright

The editing process is a never-ending task. For me, the first draft is extremely difficult, and the editing process is fun especially if I’m really into the research and in love with my characters. It’s a satisfying experience to see the story that’s been percolating inside of your head take shape into real words. Here’s the list I keep on my bulletin board for self-editing:

Step 1. Plot structure and character development.

Does the character dialogue ring true with their profile, does the plot make sense, and is the underlying theme carried throughout the story?

Step 2. Remember the 5 senses:

Add description, imagery, sensual details. Check for historical accurateness of dress, food, etc.

Step 3. Read out loud. Revise at the word level.

And there you have it. Three different passes through your finished manuscript, and this works for short stories or novels equally as well. I usually let it sit for days, even weeks in between each step. Sometimes not because I want to, but because of life demands. I’ve never been able to multi-task editing. That’s to say I cannot work on character dialogue and enhance five senses at the same time. You may be able to work differently.

Side Note: I got this in part at a writer’s conference many, many years ago when I first started writing, and have altered it several times since to fit me. Apologies for not giving credit to the speaker who provided these tips.

Cheers, and all the best on your writing journey!