How to…edit

How to edit?


9 editing tips that will make editing a breeze. Step-by-step.

Editing. A necessary job and someone’s got to do it. And I’m afraid, for the most part that someone has to be you.

Whether you’re getting ready to self-publish or approach a traditional publisher, it’s important to nail the editing stage.

But how to go about it?

My tip focuses on reading your work through several times – obvious ain’t it?

And allowing sometime to go by between writing/typing the words The End to sitting down to editing. Leave it to one side for several months, forget about it, work on something else. Keep writing, researching and reading. Doing these things further, coupled with creating distance from your work, will make you a better – and stricter editor.

Each read through that you do you look for something different. I know this means reading it through several times, but hey, that’s all part of the writing process.

  1. Read through it. It’s more important to re-read the story you have written – once or even twice to get a ‘feel’ for the story and the characters. So put the pen to one side. As a writer you’ll know the characters and the plot inside out, but on a read through, you may have found that the writing itself took the plot or a character where it wanted to go, not necessary where you originally intended it too. So, in a nutshell, read it through, and get to grips with the story as a reader – not as a writer.
  2. On the second read through – that’s where the pen comes in. Make simple marks in the margins highlighting where the story doesn’t make sense, where it drags, where the pace needs to be picked up, where the text could be broken up with some dialogue, where there are any inconsistencies, where the text doesn’t feel quite right. Or at anything that should be looked at again. This is not necessarily the time to make the changes, just highlight them. You can jot down some notes in the margin too, but keep them short and sweet. Don’t worry if you need to scrap an entire paragraph, character or chapter – it’s all part of the process.
  3. After making the changes, on the third, fourth, fifth…..read-through (or all together) look for grammar, spelling, typos, anything else that doesn’t flow very well or which feels out of place. After reading your work through a number of times, you should be feeling closer to the piece both as its creator and as a reader, so identifying plot lines that don’t make sense should come easier.


  1. Get someone else to read it through. Either the whole thing – or in pieces if you’re unsure if a particular passage works or not.
  2. Read it aloud. Hearing irregularities is much easier than reading them. Something that may look ok on the page may sound glaringly obviously wrong to the ear.
  3. Keep copies of the older manuscripts. You never know.
  4. On one of the read throughs try to read each and every word. Slow down the pace. This way you should catch any glaring mistakes. Read sentence by sentence. If you feel yourself speeding up, come away.
  5. Reading through your work on different mediums may also be helpful. On paper, on the computer screen, on a tablet/or e-reader. It almost tricks the brain. Reading on paper all the time for example may fool you into thinking everything’s alright, but switching to a different medium may fool your brain into thinking that you’re reading something new. Maybe not, but hey it’s worth a try and keeps it more interesting for you anyway.
  6. Don’t push the editing stage. If you’re worn out after a chapter than stop, there’s no point reading tired, you’ll only miss things and you’ll only have to go through it again.

2 comments on “How to…edit

  1. I love your tips! Every one is a gem, and #3 is something many people don’t think about doing . . . until they decide they want to add something back in and have to rewrite from scratch!

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