Editing Tips


I entered a lot of contests. Feedback is important but can be tough. So now that I am on the opposite end as a judge, I want to give constructive pointers in hopes the author will improve their writing. It is never the intention of the judge to be insulting. So with careful assessment, and productive comments, hopefully an author will accept criticism with an open mind and a positive attitude.

You don’t have to like or agree with the judges, but you should learn from them. Their comments made me more determined and work harder. Taking a break from judging entries in a current contest, I thought I’d share another editing tip.

 Tip # 3.  POV –  (Point of View)

Why do so many authors have trouble with POV? Head hopping? Who is speaking? Are these the heroine’s thoughts? Or the hero? What is he thinking when she said that?

Point of view for each character shows us their opinion, or their feelings. What’s going on inside of their head. The way that person sees the situation developing.

First person point of view involves the use of either of the two pronouns “I” and “we”.

Second person point of view employs the pronoun “you”.

Third person point of view uses pronouns like “he” or “she”, which is my personal favorite.

 Only shift within a scene when you have a really good reason.

Go throughout your story, chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph. Determine whose POV you are in. Note each POV change. Look for POV switch in each paragraph, within paragraphs, etc. If you have a number of these within a scene, this is what is called head-hopping.

Most scenes use only one person’s POV. If you are bouncing back and forth between each character’s thoughts, you would resemble what I refer to as a bobble-head.

Also, when using one person’s POV, I think your scene becomes more suspenseful.

 Keep the reader guessing.

The power of your story is in the character’s true emotions. Stay true to your character’s POV, one scene, or reasonable happening, at a time.

Function of POV:

Point of view is an integral tool of description in the author’s hands to portray personal emotions or characters’ feelings about an experience or situation. Writers use a point of view to express effectively what they want to convey to their readers.

Have you accomplished this?


Ascending Order – previous tip

Yay! I made my deadline. So While I’m waiting on my first round of edits, now is a good time to share my next editing tip.

Again, there are many workshops and classes and books on this subject. If you are in the process of editing a manuscript, you can benefit greatly from one or more of those.

Tip # 2.  Spacing—page breaks—tabs.

Forget what you learned in school. Well, I guess that depends on when you graduated. We won’t discuss the year I graduated. LOL. Anyway, I learned two spaces after a period. WRONG. At least not today. And not for publishing. If you are currently typing two spaces after a period, that needs to change. It’s difficult, I know. But practice—practice—practice. If you forget, or just can’t get the hang of one space, not all is lost. You can FIND / REPLACE all those extra spaces and get rid of them all at once.

Whew. I knew you’d like that.

FIND:  (period space space)     ._ _   

REPLACE:   (period space)       ._

I have a bad habit of spacing at the end of every sentence, including when I’m creating a new paragraph. There is an easy fix to that as well.

FIND:    (space before a paragraph =)   _^p

REPLACE:   (no space before a paragraph =)  ^p

I went through every sentence, took out the spaces, in twenty chapters before I found out the easy fix. Good grief. At least I know now.

Page Breaks. Editors love page breaks. NOT Enter/Return a bunch of times to get to a new page. So be sure to INSERT a page break between each chapter.

Tabs. A big no-no. Format the page, paragraphs, single spacing, amount of spacing between paragraphs, etc. from the Menu. Paragraphs will automatically indent without the tabs. Line spacing will be the same throughout your MS and spacing between paragraphs will be the same. All you need to do is hit the enter key.

So, using the second tip, you’ll want to go through your MS and look for extra spaces. Auto formatting saves you the headache of counting and trying to measure with a look if your line spacing is different from the paragraph above. Keep your editor/publisher happy.


Ascending Order – previous tip

I’ve been working on edits for my historical sequel and once again my eyes are going crossed. I read, re-read, read again. Is that what I wrote? Does that sentence make sense? Is that word really there or is my mind playing tricks on me and I think it’s there because it is supposed to be there?

Shaking my head. Rubbing my temples. Get up, go to the kitchen, get a drink.

Heck – head to the bar and get a real drink!

Okay, let’s look at this again.

This is the same thing I went through with my first book.When my mind was ready to explode after reading the same paragraph—how many times—at least a hundred, I knew I had to put it down. Hubby was in the garage working on (playing with) the mustang, I wanted to write—I really did—but I wanted to have some fun. So I was playing around and I wrote a scene with two women bantering back and forth on a cruise ship. The love boat became the lust boat. LOL. I had so much fun and the words seemed to flow. I ended up writing my first contemporary Something More.

The only thing this time—I’m on a deadline.

So I won’t be able to put the MS away for a few weeks and I certainly won’t be able to start a new book. LOL

Which brings me to Editing tips.

There have been many workshops and classes and books on this subject. If you are in the process of editing a manuscript, you can benefit greatly from one or more of those.

After classes and research, I’ve found some great tips for editing a manuscript. Since I am currently in that process, I pulled out my notes. I thought I’d share them with you. Since there are so many—and like I said, I’m on a deadline—I’ll take several weeks to lay them out there.

Tip # 1.  Show – don’t tell.

A reader wants action. Anyone can tell a story – he saw, she felt, they thought. So the first tip is to show the action. Put the reader inside the character’s head. When I first thought about this, I related it to POV. But that is another subject altogether. Still, it helps you experience what the character experiences.

Something like this: an example from “The Right One”:

Telling -Morgan hears a woman scream from the alley. He sees two men trying to abduct a woman. He wanted to kill them both. He rescues her.

Showing – Morgan ran down the alleyway and spotted two men toying with an unwilling woman. He took a stance that came as natural as breathing. “Are you in need of assistance, madam?” Shoulders taut, Morgan sized up his opponents. He could take them both in a matter of minutes. “Unhand her.”

Does that make sense? Show what the character actively does. More interesting, isn’t it?

Here are some telling words to avoid: 

Feel, felt, heard, see, saw, noticed, smelled, thought, wanted

Write what you know and the editing will be much easier. Each writer has to come up with his own system. If you are descriptive, long winded, or if you use short sentences. You need to decide what works for you.

So, using the first tip, you’ll want to go through your MS and look for telling. Make those scenes more active.

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