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  • Writer's pictureluisaraegan

How To Self-Edit Your Novel Before Investing in a Professional Editor

You've written your first draft, congrats! So what's next? The gruesome task of editing. -insert sarcastic "yay" here-

Many writers and authors can attest how hard and time consuming the editing stage can be. It's especially challenging if you yourself aren't naturally inclined to the art of proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

It is also hard to find a reputable, skilled editor that doesn't break the bank. But if you plan to self-publish, proper editors are vital and if you want someone good, you gotta pay the big bucks!

However, If you're like me and have an husband who also doubles as a beta reader and editor, this can be a huge life saver. I am one of those writers who is horrific at grammar, and Shane has no short supply of witty remarks toward my incorrect word usage and unnecessary dialogue filler. He often leaves hilarious constructive notes in my manuscripts, like this one:

Even though I will never be the editor extraordinaire he is, I have certainly learned a lot and can now do a bit of self-editing own my own before handing it over!

* Side note * - even though Shane is an excellent developmental, copy, line and proof editor, I still plan to invest in a professional editor who specializes in romance genre so I can ensure my manuscript is in tip top shape prior to publishing.

Learning a few tricks and tips on editing can really help minimize the time and money you'll spend on a professional editor, so with that, I thought I'd share the top simple self-editing tips I utilize when editing my novels.

Put your entire manuscript through

Pro-Writing Aid

Pro-writing Aid is an online tool that provides grammar, spelling and story structure in seconds. It's free to create an account and you can paste up to 500 words at a time for free.

When I put my entire story, 500 words at a time, through Pro-Writing Aid I was able to cut my story down from 122,000 words to 110,000 words. It is a great starting point.

Cut out filler words

As great as Pro-writing Aid is, it doesn't always pickup on filler words, so make sure you review your manuscript and cut out any repetitive filler words like 'well', 'so' etc.

Minimize the use of dialogue tags as much as possible.

Try to only use tags if you need to remind the reader who is speaking or who is speaking isn’t clear.

Cut back-story, info dumps and other narrative that isn’t necessary. Less is more.

Ensure your characters appearance, personality and mannerisms are consistent across the story.

Ensure the timeline of your story matches with every character and action sequence.

Each chapter should have one action, event or scene. If there’s more than one event happening in one chapter, split it into different chapters.

Read KM Weiland’s 'Most Common Writing Mistakes' and review your manuscript to see if you made these.

Review your description for show versus telling.

Take out unnecessary small talk or conversation filler. (i.e. - "hi how are you, good you? Fine.”

Make sure everything that happens in your story moves the plot forward. Ask yourself that question with every sentence, paragraph and chapter.

Check your word count to see if you need to cut it down according to the genre you write.

Make sure the tense you use is consistent. No switching between past and present or future.

I myself have a hard time picking up on this as does Pro-Writing Aid, so this is where a professional editor really comes in handy.

There you have it! I hope you found these tips helpful. Please feel free to pin the Cheat Sheet Checklist To Self-Editing Your Novel shown below!

Remember, these tips DO NOT replace the guidance and advice of a proper professional edit or proof reader, so make sure you do invest in a reputable editor before you self publish. It will make a world of difference. Never self-publish your book before it is ready. I know we writers get excited and are too impatient to wait, but patience is a virtue.

Happy editing!

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