After you’ve written your story, had it critiqued numerous times, and revised it numerous times, it’s time to proofread and self-edit. Be sure to take all precautions so you don’t meet any obstacles on your road to publication.
First 4 Tips to Self-Editing your Manuscript
1. Check for clarity
Check each sentence for clarity. It’s important to remember that you may know what you intend to convey, but your readers may not. If you have to have someone else read the manuscript for you. This is where a good critique group comes in handy.
2. Check for “telling” and lackluster sentences
Check each sentence for telling. You want to have “showing,” not “telling.”
Example: Joe hit head and was dazed.
Alternative: Joe banged his head against the tree. He wobbled a minute and fell to the ground.
Show, don’t tell. Use your imagination and picture your character going through motions—maybe he’s turning his lip up, or he’s cocking his head. Try to visualize it; this will help in showing rather than telling.
A good way to add more showing is to add more sensory details. Use the five senses to create a living character and breathe life into your story.
Example: Joe felt cold.
Alternative: A chill ran through Joe’s body.
Example: Joe was frightened.
Alternative: Joe’s breath stopped. Goosebumps made the hair on his arms stand at attention.
3. Point of View: Watch for head hopping
This is especially important for children’s writers since their stories should be told from the protagonist’s point of view or perspective.
If the story is being told from your main character’s point of view (POV) make sure it stays there. If my POV character Joe is sad and wearing a frown, you shouldn’t say: Noticing his sad face Fran immediately knew Joe was distraught. This is bringing Fran’s POV into the picture. You might say: Joe knew Fran would immediately notice his despair. They were friends for so long. Or, you can just use dialogue: “Joe, what the heck is wrong with you?”
4. Watch for story consistency, conflict and flow
This is another must for all writers of fiction. If you’re a children’s writer this is even more important.
Children need a structured story; the story needs to be easy enough for them to understand. And, children need action and conflict to keep them engaged.
Check out tips 5-10:
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