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Six Steps on How to Effectively Self-edit your Story
Despite how talented and experienced you are as a writer, you can't publish your story on the first draft. Editing is a necessary process every fictional narrative needs to go through to make it look like the author had it all figured out and accurate from the start. Your work needs to be a well-written, engaging, and exciting masterpiece that is concise and believable. Whether you choose to hire a professional editor, self-editing will still be necessary for your writing process. And here are six steps to help you in the editing process.
STEP ONE: Take a Few Weeks' Break
It is helpful to take a break after your first draft. What you need for the editing process is a fresh eye and a refreshed perspective on your story. Jumping straight into editing right after you conclude the first draft doesn't offer anything new. Also, there is the likelihood of being unaware of mistakes and inconsistencies when you don't take a break after your first draft. This is why it is essential to give yourself the distance of a few weeks between your first draft and the second. So you can return with a clearer perspective that would help improve your story.
STEP TWO: Read It Out Loud
Reading your story out loud is an effective practice in editing. It helps you correct an issue with readability, as there is no better way to know how easy-to-read your work is until you hear it being read. You can readily identify other problems when you read your work out loud. You would know which words sound better, which phrase is creating difficulty for readers, and if you have the right pacing for your story. You can read your story to others, or better yet, have someone else with a fresh eye read it to you.
STEP THREE: Do a Preliminary Edit
You should follow with a preliminary edit. Here, you are looking out for any problem with the plotline, ensuring that the plot points follow a logical sequence that flows from start to finish. Also, watch out for plot holes and try to fix them, and ensure your subplots connect well with the rest of the story. You need to keep an eye on your characters and see that they have a proper character arc. And ensure your point of view is consistent throughout the story.
STEP FOUR: Do a Scene Specific Edit
When you are done with the preliminary edit, you can zoom into individual scenes and plot points and ensure that you narrate them effectively. Here, you are to crosscheck the description of settings and characters, the narration of various actions, the exposition and backstory, and the dialogue. Make sure that you execute each of these elements effectively to achieve the desired effects.
STEP FIVE: Ensure Fact Accuracy
You must have researched a character's occupation, the location where the story event occurs, or the particular period in history the events take place. You should ensure that your second draft is consistent with the facts of your research. Cultural references, practices of the period in time, conventions of a character's profession, and landmarks of the location should not be out of place with what is obtainable. Make sure your story gets the necessary facts straight.
STEP SIX: Edit the Text
Finally, you can be your own text editor. Here, you check the structural integrity of your work. Proofread your work and ensure that basic mistakes are corrected. Mend punctuation and grammatical errors, use your thesaurus to replace words you use too often, your sentence should have equal line spacing, and add space after a paragraph. Keep things simple, ensure your diction is strong, and rewrite sentences written with the passive voice. You can use a premium Grammarly account or other grammar checkers, just to be double sure.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen