10 Book Editing Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

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For a writer, a challenge other than finishing their manuscript is editing it. These 10 simple tricks will simplify the way you edit your book.

Imagine yourself sitting down to write the final chapter of a book you’ve put your soul into. Feels ecstatic, right? Just the thought of having completed something that you’ve been working so hard is amazing. Now let’s say that you’ve manifested your goal…what comes after that? Every good writer must go back to edit their first draft.

This is anxiety-inducing; I can vouch for that. As a writer myself, I find it extremely difficult to know exactly where to start. It might seem straightforward, but when you get down to the job, you remember a number of factors like a certain character arc that would add more context to your story or a particular tip that you forgot to mention in one of your recipes. It could be anything, and that’s precisely why editing is so nerve-wracking.

Editing To Perfection

Editing is like sharpening and refining a sword after creating your initial hot-iron mold. It’s tedious and time-consuming – you aren’t just deleting some parts here and there; you’re adding, changing, and refurbishing lines that may feel dull and boring. As the famous saying goes, “words are sharper than swords”. Enthusiastic readers want to be stabbed, and you can give them that – by editing your book like a pro.

Start When It’s Over

Sometimes, writers will edit as they progress. Basically, they do one of two things; They will write a paragraph, edit that and then write the next one (and then repeat), or they will write a few stretches and go back to edit that before sitting down for the upcoming sessions.  That’s a bad idea.

Any piece of writing should be coherent. If you use the aforementioned methods, then you run the risk of turning your story into a bunch of paragraphs that just don’t go well together. First,  you need a solid foundation, which you can then fine-tune to your liking. It’s like baking a cake – you make a mixture of all the ingredients and then check to see if there’s anything that needs changing before it goes in the oven. So, with that being said, it’s best to leave the editing for the time when you’ve successfully completed your draft.

Take Notes

To be real, we aren’t robots. Nobody can complete something in one sitting, so it’s only understandable that at one point you will call it a day. During your little break, you might suddenly come across a few ideas or scenes that you want to add. Seize that opportunity and start taking notes – keep a log of your ideas that you want to add or change in the future. And, when it’s time to do the actual editing, you’ll know exactly what to do.

This can also happen while you’re writing. Say you just finished writing a chapter and while re-reading it afterward, you felt as though you could change or add something. Make a note of that. It’ll make your book editing a whole lot easier!

Let it Sit

Slow down, no one’s rushing you. If there’s anything that can mess up your book, it’s impatience. Getting straight to editing the moment you finish writing isn’t the smartest step to take. To be honest, it’ll ruin the quality of your content.

After completing your book, you want to let it sit in your computer files for a couple of days. In the meantime, you can go out, relax and find new inspirations. This way, when you get back and start editing, your mind will be fresh and primed with creativity.

Become The Reader

We all write to convey a message, to induce certain feelings, and to show readers a glimpse of our world. The best way to understand whether you’ve nailed that is to go through your writing after it’s finished.

You can read it by yourself, or have a friend read it out loud for you. Listen to what you’ve written and try to understand if you were successfully able to place those emotions or messages in your words. By doing so, you instantly spot mistakes and get to correct them in a way that’s pleasing to hear and read at the same time.

Remove, Replace and Rephrase

There are some words that tend to reappear throughout the course of your writing. It’s an unconscious thing we do, so don’t worry too much about it – that’s why we turn to edit.

Most of the time, the repeating word in question appears in areas where it’s not needed at all. A plethora of ways exist to say the exact same subject, but in different ways using different words. For example, the words ‘he’ and ‘she’ can be terribly overused when writing something in the third person. When you get to editing, compare sentences and deliberate on how you can avoid those words.

Check Your Grammar

Even the most avid writers can make serious grammatical mistakes. It can be the misuse of punctuation or using the incorrect tense in a sentence – the list goes on. The best way isn’t simply to read your manuscript a couple of times. You can read it as thoroughly as possible, but you’ll still end up overlooking some errors. Save yourself the effort, and download software that finds grammatical errors and fixes them for you – Grammarly is a great and popular option for that!

Problematic Vocabulary

Wanting to use fancy and rare words is something writers love to do. It just adds more drama to your text. However, it’s very easy to use those words in the wrong places. It may not be applicable at that spot. So when editing, consider replacing those. Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best way to go.

The Correct Format

In the world of professional writing, formatting is everything. Formatting exists in different styles and in various ways, but here are the standard recommendations:

  • The preferred font is usually “Times New Roman”.
  • Set the font size to “12”
  • Make sure the line spacing is double, or at least “1.5”, depending on your requirements.
  • Your paragraphs should have indentations, preferably to the left and on the first line of every new paragraph.

You can easily find these settings in your word processing software.

Test Readers

Send your book over to some very trusted beta-readers. At the end of the day, you are writing something that will be read by other people. Though your test readers won’t be representing everyone, their feedback can prove to be very valuable for your editing process.

Don’t Overdo it!

Lastly, remember not to go overboard. You might feel like there’s too much or too little in some areas, but you don’t necessarily have to go back and do something about it. This is also one of the reasons why having someone else read it is useful; their view is unbiased, and what’s too much for you, might be fine for them, vice versa. Furthermore – fillers may be annoying, but they are crucial to building up the suspense. So don’t feel guilty about using them.

Feeling a little more confident to get started? If you are, then I wish you the best of luck!

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