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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Wright

Self-editing? Is that a thing?

In my novel-writing adventures, I’ve learned a few effective self-editing methods. Copy or line editing your own writing is hard. You wrote the story, so you know what it’s supposed to say. Your brain auto-completes and auto-corrects when you read it over. It makes it hard to see typos, grammatical errors, and missing words. There are a few things to do to help you copy and line edit your own work.

  1. Let it rest. Once you finish your book, give it a little breathing room. Take a break. A few weeks – a month even. Celebrate! You’re getting closer to a polished manuscript! Then read it with fresh eyes. Only problem is, you still know what it says. Fresh eyes will help you catch some stuff, but not everything

  2. Read it out loud. It feels weird, but it will make you hear the things that need editing. Read every word. Act out dialogue. Read dialogue tags! Make sure the characterization is coming through. It helps you see when a word is spelled wrong, but is a completely different word so spell check is not finding it. For example, confusions like “on” and “in” are easily missed. They’re tiny and the I and O are next to each other on the keyboard, so easy typo. Read out loud to help you catch those. Basically turn yourself into an audiobook and listen to your own story.

  3. Use a self-editor. I’ve used Hemingway Editor online. It catches long sentences, adverbs, passive voice, and phrases with simpler alternatives. It does not catch spelling or grammar mistakes – use spellcheck and grammar check on your word processing program for that. What I like best about Hemingway Editor is that it’s good for line editing, especially since it finds long sentences and adverbs. But use some discernment as to whether you need to take the Hemingway Editor’s suggestions. (I have not needed them all, but I appreciate seeing my sentences differently.)

There you have it. Three self-editing methods than can help you refine your novel. Happy editing!

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