Editing Our Writing — 3 Simple Tips

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Yep, that’s what a writer wants. A cool story. 🙂

Today, more than ever, many people believe that good writing flows easily from pen to paper. Yet that’s not the case, and writers out there know it. We understand it takes weeks or months to perfect every line we write within a book, that a writer’s work is in the rewriting, not the writing.

I wish at least one of my English teachers had taught me this. Instead they teach how to write, and not how to edit. Why is that? Editing is where the real work of writing begins. So, here we go. Let me share three simple editing tips.

 

1.  WHEN EDITING, SHOWCASE YOUR DIALOGUE.

Bring your dialogue forth and let it shine. When we write, we’re usually very focused on getting what’s in our head down on paper. So when you edit:

  • Ensure your dialogue stands out.
  • Give it lots of white space.
  • Remember your sentence length.
  • No marathon sentences that have your reader gasping to get a breath in.
  • Don’t bury your dialogue where it can’t be seen.

Here’s a snippet with a nice chunk of dialogue as an example. This scene is in 1st Person, from the heroine’s POV. The hero has just kidnapped her.

The air smelt musty and damp. “Where are we, Jack?”

“An out of the way place. Wait here. I’ll light a lamp.” Something rustled as he walked away then a rattle as if he fumbled with something. “Got it.”

A flickering flame came to life within an oil lamp he now held. A gentle glow cast over the room. An old hut with one greasy glass windowpane held a dozen wooden crates stacked against the walls. I curled my toes inside my shoes and rubbed my bared arms from the chill in the air. “Nice digs.”

“This is the best location for what I have in mind. Three cabins surround this hut. They’ve got the basics for a short stay, but this one is for storage.”

“What are you saying? What short stay?”

He snorted. “Your talk of other men made me think ’kidnap.’ We need to speak more about us before I take you home.” He stalked to the door and yanked it open. “Give me a couple of minutes to go check out a cabin.”

I hope you enjoyed that little example. Never forget, lots of dialogue drives a scene.

 

2.  WHEN EDITING, DELETE, AND RARELY ADD.

Yes, you read this right. Writers are usually too wordy and after finishing your first draft of your book, each subsequent draft will reduce in word count. Concise writing is more powerful and will pick up the pace of your book. Which means it’s not unusual for most writers to finish their rewriting with ten to twenty percent less than they originally began with. So many words, that we never even needed.

 

3.  SLEEP ON IT.

When you’re editing, ideally you want to forget what you wrote so that you’re not expecting to see what you do. *Chuckle* Seriously, when you’re editing, keep moving through the pages, and then sleep on what you’ve done. If there’s a particularly difficult piece bugging you, highlight it, leave it, and come back to it after you’ve slept. When we approach our writing, it must be done with a clear mind. This is why there are several drafts in a book. Each time we return to the beginning, it’s with fresh eyes.

Sound editing is so important. Happy editing everyone, and have a fabulous week. Catch ya later.

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14 thoughts on “Editing Our Writing — 3 Simple Tips

  1. Great Tips, Joanne. I wish English teachers taught the importance of editing too. I wrote a few novels as a teen, all one draft because I didn’t realise you had to go over them and edit them. It wasn’t until I got some books out from the library, after I left school, on how to write that I learnt this.

  2. Editing is the heart and soul of writing. It can be painful, but the end product is so much better for it! Thanks for the lovely reminders.

  3. Love the picture. That is one comfy cat!

    Great advice on Editing. It’s always hard for me to distinguish editing from rewriting. It’s become a time consuming pit fall. Tips on this topic are like manna from heaven!

  4. “it’s not unusual for most writers to finish their rewriting with ten to twenty percent less than they originally began with”
    Editing my MS now and finding out this is SO TRUE!

  5. Joanne, your words are so helpful and encouraging, and really make me think about how I approach the editing process.
    One thought about #2, Delete and Rarely Add – at least for me, that applies in later versions that I’ve combed through a few times. But when I first go back to that first, messy fast draft, I find there are many scenes where I laid down only the bare bones of what really needed to be written. The “thin patches” are easy to spot. On those first few editing sweeps, what naturally belongs there just seems to pop up out of nowhere. I end up adding, sometimes quite a bit.
    That being said, I’ve also deleted not only words, but entire scenes in later sweeps. At least it stays interesting, this editing process!
    Thanks for the tips and the encouragement.

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