Friday, April 9, 2010

How do you edit your manuscript?

I want to ask you—How Do You Edit Your Manuscript. Do you rely on peer group critiques; you word processor’s spell and grammar style checker, beta readers or editing books? Do you use sophisticated editing software or rely on your own re-reads of your manuscript?

Here are a few tips I learned editing my own manuscript.

• Self-reading will build your confidence in your script and help you focus on improving it.
• Peer critiques help you focus on your weak points of your novel.
• Reading aloud will help you find missing words, poor sentences and repetitious words within the same paragraph. It will also let you hear the pace of your written words.
• Reading it in a book format will widen your eyes allowing you to see the smallest grammar and writing mistakes.

Self-reading: Face it, you can only read and re-read your ms so many times before you become immune to discovering more mistakes. Sometime you must take several weeks off before attempting another re-read.

Peer critiques: I value peer critiques because they give you several other sets of eyes looking over your writing and it gives you an idea if someone wants to read your entire book. It can also tell if you can hook a reader into wanting to read further. In order for this to work, you must be open, honest and receptive of other criticisms. I use each critique (no matter if it is negative or positive) as a constructive step toward improving my writing.

Reading aloud: I blogged about a free reader program called Natural Reader. After installing the software, I opened my first chapter, selected all and clicked on the Natural Reader. With my laptop on my lap, I shut my eyes and listened. Several times, I heard words that did not sound right and checked in the document, making changes as the program was paused. This helped me also find sentences that needed to be re-written.

Reading in eBook format: This is proving the best editing tool that I have found so far (I also blogged about this in my last post). After printing out my manuscript, I opened the Kindle for PC program and began reading the entire book. Style and grammar mistakes stuck out like a sore thumb. Using a red pen, I made remarks on my printed out pages. I am about one third through this editing phase and expect to finish by Tuesday. I will then review all of the red edit marks and make changes in my master file. I have to say it is almost like reading (and analyzing) someone else’s work.

Keep your pen sharp.


  1. Good tips, David.

    I haven't read my manuscript aloud, yet have heard numerous times, it is indeed a very good way to pick up errors - of which undoubtedly I have many ... lurking in little corners!

    Apart from pulling out great chunks of hair, I have nothing further to add to your list.

    Talking about editing, my last blog post would possibly put a wee smile on your face. It is a trivia test written by Cambridge University. Check it out. It is quite astounding what the brain does NOT pick up on.

    Good post. As always :)

    PS. My quill is sharpened - at all times :)

  2. Hello Wendy,
    Thank you for your comments. The Natural Reader software (free edition) works well and is easy to use. However, if you do not want to use it you can record your ms using a small handheld digital recorder and replay it later.

  3. Thanks for the idea of reading your manuscript in e-book format. I can't wait to try that.

    I use the AutoCrit Editing Wizard. It's great at finding problems.

  4. Hello Janine

    I also used the Auto-Crit program last year. The single feature I liked was the word redundancy section. I now can scan a page of my ms (without use of the program) and the repeated words sparkle like gold, allowing me to use other words in their place. A renewal notice arrived this week with a 25% discount. I might continue my subscription.

  5. 好文不寂寞~支持!!!!@@a 搞錯了,這不是論壇推文 XDDD........................................