Edit Like a Pro: Two Tips That Will Really Neaten Your Manuscript

Liam J Cross

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Drafting and editing are so entirely different that you wouldn’t think for one second that they were both part of the same overall ballgame. It’s easy to write. Anyone can slop eighty-thousand words into a Word document and call it a novel. Writing is not the part that’s difficult. It’s writing well that is difficult. And as a matter of fact, I don’t think difficult is an adjective that is powerful enough to properly sum it up.

Creating an excellently polished and fully-functioning book requires a person to be two things. The first is incredibly patient. And the second requirement, is that they must be absolutely (and I’m talking mental-asylum-status) insane.

So if you’re here because you want to find out some tips on how to properly edit your book, then congratulations, you’re a patient human being. You’re also insane, like absolutely crazy, but we won’t mention that part any more than we already have. Nobody needs to know…

Take a Little Inspiration From the Best

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This is a tactic that has saved my skin more times than I can count. I’m no cat, I don’t have no damn nine lives, so I’m so thankful that I managed to stumble upon this tactic.

Next time you find yourself in the middle of an editing session where you’re lacking the will to carry on (and subsequently, the will to live,) give this technique a try. Pick an author who writes in the same genre as you and grab one of their books. Find a nice quiet spot and take some time away from your writing and the rest of the world for a little. Indulge in some quality reading and free your mind from the perils of trying to edit your book with nowhere near enough caffeine in your bloodstream.

The key here is to stop yourself from overdoing it. I’d say read for no longer than an hour max. Then, once your head is clear and once you have been instilled with some inspiration, dive right back into your editing and get to work.

The theory behind this is that you should read quality writing, and then try to replicate that quality in your own work. But be super careful in making sure you aren’t stealing ideas or ripping off characters and all that jazz. That’s a sure-fire way to get nowhere with your writing career.

It’s probably a great way to get yourself sued too…

Edit Unsparingly

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This one’s for all you guys who end up in the same boat as I do – somewhere way off course in open waters, heading directly for an iceberg that makes the one that sank the Titanic look like a block of Lego floating there in the middle of the Atlantic.

In plainer terms, this one is for those of you who end up way over your pre-planned word count.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, I’m sorry to tell you that there’s no easy way out of it. The truth of it is, you’re going to have to delete ten thousand plus words, and this can be extremely difficult at the best of times. But if you’re at that stage where you feel as though there are no scenes that you could remove without affecting the flow of the narrative, then you’re in a whole new world of trouble.

And thus, the most tediously boring part of editing a manuscript begins.

All you can do at this point is work through the entire book again removing any unnecessary filler words and words that you may have subconsciously added due to speech habits. If you read any traditionally published book, you’ll notice that there are hardly any sentences that contain words that don’t need to be there. You must try and replicate this in your own writing and remove any words that seem out of place.

The aim when following this process is to tell the exact same story only with like ten thousand less words. I wish you the best of luck and may the odds be ever in your favour.

(They’re not. The odds are heavily stacked against you.)

But still, good luck.

Write the Book Your Heart Deserves

We come up with some beautiful ideas that usually stem from the deepest chasms of our heart. Wouldn’t it be blissful if it was just as easy to turn those internal visions into written realities?

I guess it would be blissful, but nowhere near as fun. By fun I mean so stressful you tear all your hair out. But still…

Use these tips to craft the book you have been envisioning for quite some time now. Get it written, get it rewritten, and then get it out there for the universe to love as one of its own.


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