7 Steps of Self-Editing

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Right now I’m deep in the throes of editing FTW. I’m currently sitting on step 5 in the list below, so my part involves a lot of waiting around so it’s really not that bad. I have to self-edit everything I write, so the more ways I can add in to check what I’ve written, the more chances I’ve got to find problems.

My process of editing has evolved over time, and now looks something like this:

Step One – While Writing – I like to edit as I go. Write a page or two, read it back. Tweak parts of it. Continue writing. I know this goes against a lot of advice you can read on writing advice sites, but that’s just the way I am.

Step Two – Draft Finished – Once the first draft is finished I then run the entire thing through ProWritingAid. I’ve found this to be immensely handy, as it points out stuff like grammatical errors, passive phrasing, repetition, consistency (eg UK vs US spellings), and a bunch of other things.

I’ve found you need to take its suggestions with a grain of salt (cliché checks too 🙂 ) because it’s not always right for the story.

Step Three – Kindle 1st Pass Review – I then rough-dump the text into an ePub to load on my Kindle. Having spent so much time looking at my writing on screen I get blind to many things. I find reading it on a different device helps find lots of little problems. I also print out and a copy at this point, so I can mark up the printout with a red pen as I read the story on my Kindle.

Step Four – Text-to-Speech Review – Once I’m sure I’ve found everything there is to find, I then use a text-to-speech program to convert the story into computer-generated speech. This helps put a degree of separation between me and the story because by listening to someone else read it aloud I can check for awkward phrasings that sound perfectly fine in my head.

It also helps me find anything else I missed during step 3. Mistyped words that aren’t spelt incorrectly (eg it instead of in, four instead of for, etc). This step takes ages because I read faster than the voice reads it aloud. When I converted my FTW draft, it came to 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Step Five – Alpha / Beta readers – After all of this I then normally give a printed copy of the story to my beta reader. In the case of FTW I’ve got an alpha reader (my wife, who wanted first dibs at reading the story after I shared the 1st chapter with her many months ago). My beta will then pick apart the story, noting any plot holes, bad phrasing, inconsistencies, etc that I have missed in all my other attempts.

Step Six – Final Draft – Once I get the story back from my beta, I make any adjustments as necessary based on her notes. At this point it’s finally ready for publication.

Step Seven – Conversion – I then take my finished manuscript and turn it into an ePub file for conversion to Kindle’s mobi format, as well as copying all the text into the paperback template. Before I hit the upload button, I have one last read of the story on the Kindle to make sure the conversion is correct. Once I’m happy, everything goes live!

One day it’d be nice to have the money to be able to afford to pay a professional editor to cast their eyes over what I write, but I’ve no idea if I’ll ever be able to earn enough extra from writing to pay for that. From where I sit the odds look about the same as winning the lottery. So until the unlikely occurs I still need to hold down a full-time job to pay the bills and squeeze my writing in where I can.

For now I just hope that when you read something I’ve written you like it and leave me a nice review.

While my story is with my beta readers, it’s giving me a chance to catch up on my reading. Since I started writing I’ve found I don’t have as much time to read as much as I used to which is a shame. So to counteract that problem, this week I’ve purchased “A Dark Night Begins: A Doomsayer Tale (The Doomsayer Journeys Book 4)” by Steven Wetherell.

I read the first three books in the series earlier this year and got distracted before I could get to the fourth. I’ve just finished reading it, and I thought later this week I’ll post a review of what I thought of it.

For those who can’t wait that long, the basic premise of the review will be that the series is well worth a read, so do yourself a favour and check ’em out if you haven’t already.

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