5 Editing Golden Rules

Editing is a part of your books journey from draft to published novel that many writers do not enjoy. This could be because they don't know where to start, or are afraid they'll miss certain aspects or simply because they prefer writing the book. However, editing is much needed as no first draft is ever the final draft, or at least it shouldn't be. I'm going to list five golden rules of self-editing that I think really stand out and are fundamental to this stage!

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Read your work aloud

This one really helped me when editing Unveiled Reflections as it helped me distinguish between whether lines flowed, or didn't. It also helped me spot punctuation mistakes when a comma might have been telling me to take a breath, but I didn't feel like I should have, or vice versa. Reading your work aloud will dramatically help, so I would consider this my top golden rule in this list!

Spend some time away from your story

Essentially, you want to forget all about your novel as best as you can so that when you come back to edit it, you'll be looking at it with fresh eyes. This means that you'll be reading it through your 'reading eyes' rather than your 'writing eyes' and you'll be able to get a feeling for how other readers will feel when reading your novel.

This break doesn't have to be long, and I wouldn't suggest taking a month or longer away from your novel if you can help it. I believe a week to two weeks is a soft spot, any longer and you run the risk of feeling demotivated and forgetting about your novel completely - the horror!

Show, don't tell

I know, I know, you've heard this one before, we all have, and yet I still find in my own writing, and in some books I've read, where writers seem to prefer, 'she loved him' to 'when she was around him her stomach bubbled with excitement and her thoughts were clouded with one face. His.'

Readers want to be able to see the characters and story in their mind, they want to be able to imagine every single aspect. Make sure you're thinking about the five senses when writing, what can your character smell, touch, see and think about the textures and actions that relate to this.

Pay attention to spelling

I cannot stress this enough, and this is actually something I really struggled with when writing Cloaked Shadows! 'But there's spellcheck!' I hear you say, yes there is and you should use spellcheck but please don't rely on it. I remember reading through Cloaked Shadows after thinking that it was ready to release, and realising that there were so many words that were not spelled incorrectly, but were incorrect in the sentence.

For example, one sentence could be, 'Jill's ant frowned at the thought of her niece leaving home.' No, a tiny ant did not frown. The word should be 'aunt' but the 'u' has been missed. Spellcheck won't pick this up as 'ant' is a word.

Another thing to be mindful are is inconsistent spelling and spelling for your country. For example, I live in the UK and we spell the shortened version for 'mother' and 'mum'. However, in the USA they spell this word as 'mom'. So, make sure that you're checking these spellings for any inconsistency.

Have your work checked by someone else

Sometimes when you're reading the same piece of work over and over again you'll miss things. It's natural to do so! Which is why I suggest having your work checked by someone else. An editor would be fab, but if you can't afford it you don't need to worry. Gather between 5 - 10 beta readers and have them check through your work. You'll find that they'll be able to spot spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, or other parts in your story that need work better than you would be able to.