Marathon Editing

Editing Tribulations and Tricks

For the last several months, I have been stuck in editing mode. It’s not that I dislike editing. I just like creating new stories better.

Editing becomes a tribulation when all you do is edit from morning to night. That’s what happens when you fast draft three books in a row and then have to ready them for publication all at the same time.

When you spend that much time editing, your eyes begin to go bleary. Then you start to miss errors. Then your mind starts to drift. And then you find yourself reading your e-mail or raiding the fridge. Not good!

Ideally, I would write new stories in the morning and do my editing in the afternoon. But that doesn’t work very well when you have deadlines to meet. So I have come up with some editing tricks that have really helped me work more efficiently and faster when doing Marathon Editing.

Five Editing Tricks

Trick 1

Set a goal for the number of pages you have to have edited by the end of each day. If you are mathematically inclined, this would be the total number of pages divided by the number of days you have to get the editing done.

Trick 2

Set a timer. Edit for twenty minutes and then force yourself to take a break for 5 to 10 minutes. Get up and move. Shake out the kinks. Do a dance, go for a walk, or assume a yoga pose  Make sure to peer off in the distance so your eyes don’t get stuck at computer focus distance. Then edit twenty minutes more and repeat.

Trick 3

Use the text to speech function that comes with your computer or one of the text-to-speech readers such as NaturalReader  to read your writing to you. Having the computer lady or guy read aloud slows down your eye speed and lets you look at each word and sentence more carefully. You instantly know when you’ve missed a period because the voice doesn’t stop when you expect it too. It also helps you checkout comma placement, find misspellings, and discover those pesky missing words.  Despite the annoying voices, hearing them read aloud the dialogue is the best way to see if it reads naturally.

Trick 4

Work backwards. All writers love their own stories. It is easy to get lost in the tale and forget to look for missing words and misspellings and so on. So start at the back and work to the front page by page. If you still get lost in the story. Limit each read aloud to one paragraph.

Trick 5 

Use Autocrit or ProWritingAid to find repeated words, overused words, and clichés.

HINT: All of these trick also work for editing blog posts.

What editing tricks do you use?