Monday, December 8, 2014

Self-Editing Tips and Hat's Off to Angela Brown

Self-editing Tips

I’ve read a lot of articles on the editing process. They have a lot in common, but each writer has his or her own system. Here’s mine. I usually work from the big picture (things like character consistency) down to the details (punctuation). I have a checklist, and this really helps me to focus on specific parts of my manuscript, one step at a time. 

I’m not an “organized” writer, but I am an organized editor. I try. 

Here’s my checklist:

Plot: engaging, complex enough, hits the ground running, starts in right place, keeps moving forward, logical, no coincidence that should not be there.

Character: MC clearly established at the beginning, MC wants or needs something immediately, markers for characters clear and consistent, not one-dimensional has good and bad qualities, makes reader care, motivations clear and right for the story

Setting: appropriate for the story, described sufficiently, but not too much 

Dialogue: advances the story, appropriate for the characters, increases conflict, always clear who’s talking

Scenes: there are various kinds of scenes, all further the plot or reveal more about characters  or build tension

Point of View: Consistent, the right choice for telling this story 

Pacing: Any scenes that drag and might need to be deleted, places dialogue could be changed to increase pace, heighten tension

Tone: Consistent for story, consistent with each character

Conflict: Sufficient to keep story interesting, does it increase throughout the story until the climax

Balance: Description, dialogue, narration, scenes and chapters. 

I don’t worry about getting everything during each editing session. Sometimes I make a note to go back to something later, then move on with the editing part I’m focused on during that session. 

Sometimes I stop and do that edit, even though I’m focusing on another aspect of the story. In other words, I’m flexible about moving around the story to fix things that come up while I’m in the process.


Stock up on survival supplies. Mine include nuts and water. No wine. I sometimes write with wine, but I never edit with it

Try for an uninterrupted time. I find that the more I can stick with the story during editing, the better I am at catching problems.

Don’t feel that you’re the only writer who has wanted to throw out their book at this point, but don’t do that. Take a break, then come back to the job when you’re a bit calmer.

Be prepared for several sessions with that manuscript. You’re going to have to edit it a few times. Be thankful when you’re down to those details of punctuation, grammar, word choice, and repeated or words or phrases. That means you’re almost finished. Relax.

Hat's Off Corner

For seventeen-year-old Macie Breen, life in The Colony is a daily norm of being the odd girl out, that is, until everyday predictable slams to a screeching halt. Forced to the capital city of Bliss, Macie's life becomes a horrific unraveling as she confronts daunting truths about The Colony as well as who, or what, she really is. 

Buy links: Evernight | Amazon
Angela Brown in the Pursuit of Publishness blog:


  1. Angela, you are more organized than I am! But that's a good thing.

  2. Congrats to Angela on her new book. I like your editing list. And like you, I edit more than once, sometimes focusing on a specific issue.

  3. That's a good tip list. I always edit from paper rather than the computer screen, too.

  4. Great tips! I agree, writing with alcohol can sometimes create some interesting ideas, but editing under the influence probably isn't a good idea...

  5. I need those editing tips. I like to work from a hard copy too, I seem to be able to see things better.

  6. Thanks for the editing tips. I tend to go through multiple editing sessions (partly due to OCD I think) but I try hard to make the final product something I can be proud of.

    Thanks as well for the mention in the Hat's Off Corner :-)

  7. Thanks for these tips! Definitely need to resist the urge when you want to throw that thing out lol.

  8. Great tips. I'm not that detailed, but I do have a few rounds I do where I focus on one thing at a time.

  9. Editing can be grueling. I sometimes edit with whine, but never wine :)

  10. Great editing tips. Like you, I prefer a big chunk of time. That's the best way for me to catch time line inconsistencies. I always seem to find one.

  11. Congrats to Angela!

    Excellent tips (especially the no wine). I use a checklist too, though mine is more elementary- like "just" search; chapter plot break down; and such.

  12. Yay, Angela!
    Love your suggestions, especially the no wine. Sadly editing is when I need wine the most but I know it's not a good idea. :D

  13. those are all wise and handy tips

  14. Congratulations, Angela. I'm wondering who or what she is. :)
    Great tips, Lee. Edits never seem to end. I write a lot of notes, also, to go back and check this or that.

  15. Good advice! I tend to get bogged down by conflict. Getting better - but it's a slow process!

  16. Congrats to Angela!!!

    And that's a great list for editing. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I admire your organization, Lee. I try to think about tools such as characterization, pacing, grammar, etc. separately when I'm editing but sometimes, I can't help myself and jump around. Grammar has always been a pet peeve of mine so even if I am trying to concentrate on a scene, I will go over and over and over it again until my grammar is correct.
    Congratulations, Angela!

  18. Excellent editing tips. I always do a lot of passes through a manuscript looking at different things each time. Otherwise I tend to get scattered. And yay for Angela! :)

  19. Great editing tips, Lee. Editing is such an important part of the process. Congrats to Angela!

  20. Great tips on how to plot the book you wish to write and how often you will be editing. I don't think wine would be a good thing:)

  21. Congrats, Angela!

    Hi, Lee,

    Terrific tips. I try to do all of the above in my editing process. And yes, multiple edits are necessary....

    Hope all is well with you, Lee!

  22. Lee, Thanks for sharing your list! And congrats to Angela.


  23. Hi Lee, thanks for the follow, am following you back. You have shared some amazing editing tips, this post is perfect for me as I am currently editing one of my manuscripts.

    Congrats to Angela.

  24. I always love learning about other writer's editing process. Great checklist and I think it is important to be flexible during the process. You never know what might catch your eye or what you won't feel like doing right then. Thanks for sharing!

    Best of luck to Angela!

  25. Hey Lee,

    Wow, a fascinating insight to your editing process. I had no idea there was such things as editing. I just write whatever and that's it. Okay, I do have a certain dog constantly telling me to change a word here and there and whatever.

    Yay to Angela, one of my adoring fans, don't cha know!

    Your ongoing starstruckest fan and all round terrific dude,


  26. I can always use more tips for self-editing. :)

  27. This is such an excellent checklist, Lee. And congrats to Angela Brown! I LOVE that cover!

  28. So many great tips! Nuts and water are part of my survival supplies, too... :)

  29. These are great tips! I always need to watch for coincidences. It's so hard to avoid them!

  30. Conflict is definitely important, as is engaging characters. If you bond with a character, you'll follow him/her through anything.

  31. I like to get through editing uninterrupted too. It helps. I go through it in swipes/passes. It's impossible to see everything at once. Ugh, I hate the 'I hate this story/it sucks' phase.

  32. Congrats to Angela. I hope to grab a copy.

    Great tips. I need water, soda, and a lot of quiet time at night to get through editing.

  33. That's certainly and organized editing process, and you have also provided good tips for other writers.

    Congrats to Angela Brown.

  34. We can all learn from your editing tips!


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