Writing is not easy and completing a writing task can give you some kind of relief. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can already sit back, relax and submit your work for publication once it is finished. You still have one more task which is equally challenging: it is editing and revising your piece.
Whatever your written work may be, you need to evaluate it to make it more compelling and free from avoidable mistakes. Here are a few steps to edit your own writing:
1. Take a break.
After you have finished writing, you need to take a break. Step away from your computer and allow your mind to drift away from the work you just finished.
Take time out. Spend a few days with your family and your friends. See a movie. Go to the beach. Spend time around to appreciate the beauty of nature. These are some of the things you can do to unwind your mind.
2. Read the manuscript.
After you have rewarded yourself with that much needed break, it’s time to go back to work. The first thing you need to do is to switch from being the writer to a reader.
As a reader, you don’t have to change anything in your manuscript, but you can make notes about certain areas that need major fixes later on.
3. Focus on the parts of speech.
Focus, one type at a time, on the parts of speech: Take notice of nouns and use specific terms. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus to find the most appropriate words for your story.
Know the precise meaning of every word you use. This can help you to give your reader an accurate understanding of what you want your story to tell.
4. Break paragraphs into simple sentences.
Your writing will become more understandable if you break your paragraphs into simple sentences. Paragraphs that are composed of long, complex sentences are confusing.
5. Avoid exclamation marks and minimize italics.
“Scare quotes” and exclamation points only frighten your readers away. You should avoid using them unless your story is about OMGs.
Excessive use of italics can be an eyesore that weakens the overall impact of your story.
6. Be particular about your tone and voice.
Honestly evaluate your writing for its personality, as it can help to make you determine the appropriate tone for your writing. If you’re writing a how-to, you can be conversational, but don’t sacrifice your authority with your simplicity. If you’re writing period fiction, be alert for anachronisms.
7. Reconstruct your manuscript if necessary.
Don’t hesitate to undertake significant revisions if you find that a major structural flaw exists. While it is true that you have spent a considerable amount of time and effort on your manuscript, you should not let major faults go by without rectifying them.
8. Optimize your manuscript for the search engines.
Today, everything has a place on the web. Whether you are producing content for print, video, podcast or other media, it is always wise to optimize it for the search engines because people will search for it online.
You should infuse important keywords in your synopsis, chapter titles and subheadings to ensure that search engines can find them online, when people search for your manuscript on the web.
9. Read your manuscript aloud.
Reciting your manuscript can help you detect awkward sentences or missing words that you might have omitted. Check your content by reading it aloud and listening to the rhythm of your writing. This will give you a chance to correct awkward sentences and make you produce a flawless manuscript.