Whether you decide to use a professional proofreader or go the self-edited route (not recommended if you can avoid it), editing and revision are key elements of writing. If heavy proofing isn’t already a part of your writing process, now is the time to incorporate it. It can be hard enough to make your intentions absolutely clear in your writing, but having poor grammar, incorrect spelling or other mistakes will only further complicate things and it will be that much more difficult to get your idea across to readers.
To help you out, we have put together a few of the most important points to keep in mind when editing your writing. Good luck!
Handwritten Proofing Notations
The first time you see proofreading shorthand marked up all over your work you may feel totally lost. Not only could you be faced with a sea of blue or red ink, you may not even know what the editor is asking you to change! The good people at the New York Book Editors have curated an amazing blog (nybookeditors.com/blog) with content devoted to everything you need to know about crafting and publishing your dream book. In their post “A Guide to Copyediting Marks” they have created the ultimate map to these notations: http://nybookeditors.com/2013/06/copyediting-marks/
Editing and Revision Checklist
Even if you are using a professional proofreader, it is always best to read and re-read your draft a few times before sending it on. Not only could it save you money in proofreaders’ fees, but it may help you to figure out ways to reword troublesome lines without the influence of someone else’s writing style. Before sending your work to the editor or publisher, make sure you print out a copy of your writing and check for the following possible errors:
- Overall word count (taking Stephen King’s advice, it is ideal to reduce your draft by about ten percent for the final copy)
- Substitute authority for opinion (if your writing seems wishy-washy it will lose its power)
- Capitalisation and punctuation (pick a style and keep with it!)
- Word choice issues (check to make sure you have not used any outdated clichés, mixed metaphors or unnecessary phrases)
- Eliminate adverbs and qualifiers (in most cases, if you need to strengthen a verb or adjective using either of these you have not chosen the best word in the first place)
- Consistent verb tenses (an always-tricky component for even the most talented writers)
Read it Out Loud
Probably one of the most important parts of editing is hearing your words the way a first-time reader would. It is easy to unconsciously correct a word or sentence in your head because your brain knows what you intended to write down. Saying the words out loud, however, will not only force your to slow down while reading but will also give you the opportunity to actually hear what you have written.