Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ken's Writing Tips: Editing

Hey there, everyone!

A quick note before we get started: From now on, I will be regularly updating this blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays I will talk about writer-type things, (my process, tips that you are free to ignore, other misc.) and Thursdays I will be posting this week's Flipped Book Review videos. Thanks for sticking with me as I work all this new craziness out! 

Now for my own thoughts on editing for indie authors :)

Finish your manuscript! Feel free to edit as you go, if that's your thing, (it's how I roll) but know in advance that you are still going to need to edit half a dozen times once you are all "finished" writing.

It's a sad thought, but one that you need to be comfortable with so that you don't make the mistake of publishing too early.

Once you've finished up your writing, and your manuscript is shiny and new oh so exciting, get ready to tear it a new one. That's right, that baby's going to need a facelift and some lipo before she's ready to share with the world.

"But she's so pretty! I mean, I know that all authors say that about their manuscripts, but in our case it's true. I've been working on this for so long and so hard and I know that every word and every sentence is relevant and pertinent to the story. She's beautiful, and I know the world is gonna love her just the way she is."


A good first step that I've found is reading the story out loud to yourself. No mumbling or inner-monologue, read it out for you and all your super cool manga posters to hear. Every time you stumble over a word or phrase, it needs work. Cut it, change it, whatever you have to do. Just make it smooth. If you hear yourself say the same word three times in under two minutes, do something about it. Anything that sounds awkward to you, is going to read awkward for the folks that are kind enough to spend money on your book. Fix it.

Now you've read through the entire manuscript and it all flows so well that it practically rolls off of your tongue, so you're done, right?


The next step I take is to find all of the common issues that writers run into. Heavy adverbs, too much use of passive voice, saying seems thirteen million times... ok, that one was mine, but you get the point. Luckily for all of us, there are tools out there that can help you identify these issues. I use Edit Minion. I can't tell you how much it has helped me with my writing.

Next, read it aloud again. You cut and changed things, now you need to be sure that your baby is still smooth.

Then, find some folks to read it for you. Not your mom. Or your wife. No one that is related to you, and no one that would fly across country to go to your funeral, if you died. These people are untrustworthy. They don't want to hurt you. Find strangers. There are forums and blog circles and whole websites dedicated to just this thing. I use Critters.org. Most of the folks there are writers, looking for the same kind of help that you need. You'll have to read for others, critique their work, but they will be doing the same for you. Be honest with them, but don't be a jerk.

Take what they say with a grain of salt. If they touch on something you noticed, or if more than one person mentions an issue, it probably needs to be addressed. But if someone says that calling a character beautiful makes her seem like a b*tch, you have every right to ignore their advice.

Take notes from your critique-ers.

Do more edits.

Read it aloud again. Fix as necessary.

"Then I'm done, right? My baby and I are ready for the world, ready to make a million dollars!"


Walk away. Leave your baby in a file drawer or on a flash drive, and walk away. For at least two months.

"But she's delicate and she needs my love! And food... or something!"

No she doesn't.

Walk away. Write other things, blog about food or monkeys or your own writing process (wink). But walk away. When you come back to her, you are going to find that she's a teenager now. She's rebellious and not as pink and shiny as you remember her being. She has adverbs in all the wrong places and her dialogue is stiff and ridiculous at points.

Make more edits.

Read aloud a lot.

Make more edits. Now you can ask your mom to read it. She's still untrustworthy, but with your baby growing away from you, you're going to need some encouragement.

Get an awesome cover. Pay for it if you have to. No matter how many times we've been told not to judge a book by its cover, we still do.

Read aloud again.

Set up a blog tour. Your baby's been through a lot, but she's so close. She deserves to be sent off in style.

Read aloud one more time. Edit as you see fit.

Is she perfect?


Is she ever gonna be perfect?


If you're ready, and you think she's ready for the big world out there, it's time to send her off.

Publish in as many formats as you can. Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and Createspace are just a few places that can help you with this.

Alright, this one was long.
Thanks for reading,
buh bye then

No comments:

Post a Comment