How to edit your story
So you've finally finished writing your dream novel. Congrats! Now what?
Maybe you succeeded in making your protagonists' love for each other sizzle off the page, or you nailed that scene where your hero battles a monster and comes out on top. Whatever world you've created, chances are you're going to need to do some editing to make sure your story is polished and ready for readers to dive in.
By taking it one step at a time, editing is a totally manageable process that can help take your story to the next level.
Top 6 editing and revision strategies
Look out for spelling and grammar errors
Typos happen to the best of us, but proper spelling and grammar are what help establish the quality of your work. While word processors catch most mistakes, they can't read your mind, nor do they understand your story or why you've worded things the way you have.
Making a habit to reread your drafts at least once is the best method of checking for accuracy. If you struggle with this, there are plenty of resources that will help you develop your skills. The better your own internal spellchecker becomes, the more professional your story will appear.
Consistency is key
During the writing process, it can sometimes feel like ideas are bubbling up faster than you can jot them down. Writing a story outline helps direct your writing so that you stay on course and avoid inconsistencies.
While revising your work, it helps to pay attention to all the details you touch on throughout. Revisiting these details will not only avoid reader confusion, but strengthen your plot overall.
Read it out loud
While some phrases look great on paper, they may sound totally different when spoken out loud. Reading your story out loud is a surefire way to ensure your story flows smoothly. Try reading it to someone else and see what they pick up on, too.
Does this sentence make sense with the rest of your narration? Does that line sound like something your teenage character would actually say? More importantly, does what you've written sound sophisticated or a bit jumbled? If you've identified any issues, try rephrasing your wording so that it sounds more natural.
Keep things eventful
A lot happens in a story, and everything can feel super important when writing your first draft. Now's your chance to take a critical eye and examine what actually matters. It helps to pay attention to the main events within every chapter and ask yourself these questions:
- Do these events advance the plot?
- Do these events help my character grow?
- Do these events make readers want to know what's next?
If you answered “no” to all of these questions, you might want to consider cutting that part out of your final draft. Critically examining what's important in the plot will help ensure they're hooked from start to finish.
Seek out constructive criticism
Do you have a group of fellow writer friends? A colleague with a sharp editorial eye? Consider reaching out and asking them to take a look at your work, or set up a writers' circle and swap stories. Sometimes the best changes to any work were suggested by someone who wasn't the author. It's okay to be a bit uncomfortable in these situations, but try to remember: critiques aren't personal. Whoever is reading things over just wants the best for your story. Even the best writers have editors.
Lastly, take things at your own pace. Great work doesn't happen overnight! Don't rush the process. Take time to give your work a proper edit and you're golden.