Half of writing is editing and revising. These processes are crucial – they allow you to polish, embellish and improve your work. This includes trimming everything that’s unnecessary, adding everything that makes the narrative coherent and better, and replacing everything mediocre with something better. Here are tips to edit and revise your writing and help you along the way. The most important tip, however, is to never be your harshest (and most insensible) critic.

Distance yourself from the work before you begin

It’s important to create distance between yourself and your own writing before you begin editing. When you’re writing, you slip into the persona of the character and become intimately attached with them. But to edit well, you need to look at your work objectively and from afar. For this, it is necessary to let some time lapse between writing and editing.

Read sentences out loud to see how they sound

Reading out loud and in your head are two very different things. When you read aloud, your brain actually processes how the words sound like. This way, you’re better off judging if they fit well, sound good or just make sense. This also allows you to process if the sentences are too long to process or too winding to make sense and hold the reader’s attention.

Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing
Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing

Check for flow between paragraphs as well as chapters

Even though writing happens in bits and pieces, editing refers to making the whole coherent – it’s concerned with the entirety of the work. So it’s important to see, consciously, how the narrative flows between paragraphs and chapters. Your work while writing may be beautiful, but it will not connect with readers unless it is coherent and well flowing.

Ideate even while editing

It’s a common misconception that the writing is where the ideation happens and editing is where revising and structural corrections happen. While this may largely be true, it’s important to not shut off ideation and creative processes while editing. As it is while editing that you look at a work holistically, you can get ideas about making it perfect plot wise.

Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing
Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing

Reread three times – for loose ends, for grammar and for stylistics

Editing always requires three re-reads. The first is to make sure there are no loose ends, or no foreshadowing without outcome or bits of info that are not used. Then the second is to correct the sentence structure, grammar, syntax and the overall structure. Finally, the third one is for making the writing more beautiful.

Check for constancy of voice

One thing that readers value the most about literature is the unique voice of the narrator. So it’s important to keep that intact. Every writer has his or her own unique voice, but it is also important to keep it coherent. This means that the voice should be constant throughout the novel. If it isn’t, then readers will instantly disconnect from the work.

Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing
Half of Writing is Editing And Revising: Tips To Edit And Revise Your Writing

See if you’re telling more than showing, and if that works for the work

Showing versus telling is an eternal debate in the authorial world. Showing readers gives them a sense of independence while telling readers feels like spoonfeeding. Hence most editors agree that showing is better than telling. While editing, you can look out for words like ‘feel’ or ‘does’, which usually signify telling. Then evaluate if it is necessary to use them.

Read chronologically as well as in bits and pieces

There are two ways to read a text – chronologically and in bits and pieces. The former is necessary to get an idea of the bigger picture, to see if the plot fits together and the work as a whole makes sense. The second is to attend to the work of art at a micro level and make each individual entity such as a chapter, scene or sentence perfect. Both are crucial.

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