Tips for Editing Your Work
|Some of my editing tools. |
Photo | Elizabeth King Humphrey
What are some of the things you might need to keep in mind when you are self-editing a piece of writing?
- Give yourself distance. Finished the draft Tuesday morning and editing starts Tuesday afternoon? Not quite. Allow yourself some time between finishing a draft and starting the edit. Your fresh eyes will more readily catch any possible errors.
- Ask questions before you start. Are there areas that you noticed in your draft that think might need some extra help? A place where you want to make sure less is more? Make note of those places and try to answer those questions as you edit, taking particular care for the plot points you feel need additional focus.
- Stay close to your dictionary. You may have seen the word accomodate a million times and think you know how to spell it. But watch out! There are dozens of words that we think we've spelled right, but we may have just accommodated ourselves to the wrong spelling.
- Style guides are your friend. If you wish to self-edit, you should have some understanding of how style can impact your edit. The different style books can be your guide in learning how to treat numbers and punctuation.
- Weaving the storyline. You may not outline your work as you go along, but when you self-edit, you should take some time to sketch out the structure of the story. This can help ensure continuity of the plot and strengthen your work as you review your draft.
Elizabeth King Humphrey received a certificate in editing from the University of Chicago's Graham School. She lives, writes, and edits in coastal North Carolina.