16 November

Self-Edit Method - Set, Do, and Forget It...



Oh, have I witnessed some horrendous, excruciating attempts by new writers... 

They pick and prod and backspace and retype and correct and search, and hem and haw... FOREVER. I literally grow old just watching the effort.

I get it. New Writer Doubt. You carry truckloads of that stuff on your shoulders, 24/7. It's a wonder you can pick up a pen at all. How do I know what's on your shoulders? Because I've had that very same pack sack on my back, and in no way does it help you go from draft to donesco with that manuscript.

Here's what you do:

You set a method in stone. You decide that there will be these editing steps you must undertake with each work, and you complete those steps, one step at a time. And when you get to the end of that list, you STOP editing.

I'll type that again...


And once you are done, then you hand the manuscript over to a professional editor to gloss. The experience you have with that editor will be a learning curve as steep as climbing Everest, BUT you'll come away from that exercise like a brand-new writer, a GOOD one. You'll thank your lucky stars. Just be careful who you choose. As in anything in life, you get what you pay for.

Back to the Method...

You can arrange the timing/order of these steps however you want, but these steps are non-negotiable, if you want to do this self-edit right and not repeat ad nauseam. And those steps are:

  • an analysis edit of the entire manuscript with a professional program. I recommend Pro Writing Aid. If you're serious about this writing gig, get the lifetime membership. It won't break the bank, but it will save your bacon in all your future edits. In this edit, check for Glue Words, Sticky Sentences, Repeating Words/Phrases, etc. Any weaknesses you know you have as you write drafts. Pro Write has a vast Menu you can choose from as analysis tools.
  • an on-screen reading edit - wherever you stop in your reading or your attention trails off, there's a prob. Fix it.
  • a hard copy print/edit you ROL - Read Out Loud - yes, I know, you don't want to print out your manuscript, but you really should, so you can get away from that screen and see the book in a whole new light. And when you ROL it, gaffes will pop out at you like flying popcorn, and you'll wonder what drugs you were on when you wrote the draft! I recommend a hard copy ROL every 30-50 pages until you finish the MS. You CANNOT ignore the ROL, peeps. Yes, I know, it makes you feel like a weirdo. Fun Fact: You're a writer. Of course, you're weird! Now, that we have that settled, ROL, already!

HOMEWORK: Set up your self-edit method today. Arrange the time frame for those steps to suit you and your ability. And go through each until they're all completed, and then DO NO MORE. Seriously, stop it, already. You've done all you can do with that manuscript. Now it's time to hand it off to a pro. And after the pro is done with it, and you've made the appropriate re-writes, that baby is ready to be published! Really, no foolin'!

No more hemming or hawing, or second-guessing.

Your work is done, as done as humanly possible, as any work can be.

Now you have permission to enjoy the fruits of your labors, and start a brand-new work. Huh, fancy that. A second book. Whodathunk?

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