Editing Tips That Actually Help (Part 1)
Start writing a post

Editing Tips That Actually Help (Part 1)

Big-picture advice

Editing Tips That Actually Help (Part 1)
Dimitry Ratushny

Let's cut to the chase. You have editing to do. So do I, and the quicker I slap these tips on the table, the quicker I can get back at it. I've gathered this advice from other writers, from beta readers and from reading. These tips are good, but that doesn't mean they're absolute. Find your writing voice, and balance it with these - you don't have to, of course.

But you should.

1. Revise before you edit.

Don't line-edit on your first go. It'll waste time. When your project is finished, look at the entire thing from a distance, ignoring all the little grammar errors or dialogue you want to rearrange. That's for later. The first step is to look at your glorious mess of a first draft and find the spark, the part of the book that carries the entire story's spirit with it (aka the reason you started writing it in the first place). Once you've identified the spark, compare it to your plot. Did the rising action do what you wanted it to? Did the climax take the story where it needed to go? Is the ending actually good? If not, how can you fix it? If yes, how can you make it better? Ask big questions and make big changes. Invert the whole thing if you have to. Revise first.

2. Get feedback and use it.

Find people you trust who also meet some other qualifications, such as reading in the genre you write, or being writers themselves. It's fine to have that one person who will never give you criticism (for your sanity's sake), but be on the lookout for constructive feedback. It will hurt, because it's impossible to be a writer without feeling like you've just been slapped most of the time, but you will improve. And nobody's forcing you to take every suggestion to heart. Listen to the feedback with humility, and then make wise, story-centric decisions based on what you hear. Other people are a valuable resource, so don't try and write a masterpiece by yourself.

3. Be ruthless. (Cut!)

Delete anything that doesn't contribute.

No, wait. Don't misunderstand me.

I said anything.

If it doesn't move the plot, if it doesn't characterize, if it doesn't serve a real purpose - cut it. This will most certainly sting. But after doing it for months now, I've actually gotten to the point where I'm enjoying it because I can see immediate improvement. I know my plot so well that I can determine whether or not that conversation really needs to happen, and once I remove it, the scene sprints instead of limps. Cutting unnecessary junk streamlines your writing and gets readers to the point - which, given the literary climate these days, is a pretty darn good thing.

4. Set an end goal.

If you're like me, you're likely to get sidetracked and end up working on one project over the course of 4 years without any kind of set structure. I recently decided to finish this draft by March and start querying by the end of the summer at the very latest, and it's given me new fire (mostly because deadlines are like speeding, fiery, explosive trains). End goals have reminded me of the big picture, and now I want it more than ever, so it's time to make it happen - starting with setting an end goal. Give yourself a deadline if that helps, or just set a general goal, big or small. Every accomplishment is still an accomplishment.

Next week, I'll go over some smaller, nitty-grittier editing tips, but for now, use these. Think master-plan. A book is way more than just a collection of chapters: it's a whole. If you ever feel too swamped by the details, then step back, for goodness sake. Like I said earlier, the spark, the reason you started in the first place, is your motive. Don't forget why you started.

Okay, that's all. Go write!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

A Complete List Of Women's Gifts For Christmas

If you're looking for the perfect gift, here's a list.

Wrapped gifts on the floor

In an age where women are multi-faceted and have a wide range of interests, finding the perfect Christmas gift can sometimes feel like a challenge. But fear not - we've compiled a list of unique and thoughtful gift ideas specifically tailored to delight the women in your life. Whether she's a fashionista, a tech enthusiast, or a book lover, there's something here for every woman to make her holiday season extra special.

Keep Reading...Show less

5 Different Religions And Their Unique Christmas Celebrations

From Hanukkah Lights to Nativity Scenes: 5 Faiths' Unique Takes on the Christmas Spirit

Christmas traditions

The Holidays are a time for being with friends and family and celebrating the birth of Christ, but sometimes we forget to acknowledge the other religions and what they celebrate. Some religions like the Islam do not even celebrate Christmas and then you have others, the Buddhists, who use the holiday to practice their religion of spreading peace and goodwill. In no particular order, I would like to demonstrate a little culture about the ways Christmas is celebrated or is not celebrated throughout five different religions.

Keep Reading...Show less

12 Reasons Why I Love Christmas

What's Not To Love? But These Reasons Are Why Christmas Is Best

Young woman with open arms enjoying the snow on a street decorated with Christmas lights.

There are so many reasons why I love the Christmas time! Check out the joy that makes this time of year truly special, from festive traditions to heartwarming moments. Enjoy!

Keep Reading...Show less

A Beginner's Wine Appreciation Course

While I most certainly do not know everything, I feel like I know more than the average 21-year-old about vino, so I wrote this beginner's wine appreciate course to help YOU navigate the wine world and drink like a pro.

White wine being poured into a glass

Keep Reading...Show less
Types of ice cream

Who doesn't love ice cream? People from all over the world enjoy the frozen dessert, but different countries have their own twists on the classic treat.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments