Self-Editing for the Writer

Hello Writers,

One of the toughest things about being a writer is the criticism we receive and the soul-searching that inevitably results because of it. When we write, we put our heart in its most vulnerable form out there and it can be painful when someone doesn't agree with what we've done. But to be a writer, especially one that seeks to be published, is to accept that every word you write may be analyzed. So, what's the best way to deal with this kind of scrutiny? Well, I've learned that I have to be my own best critic and editor before I even put it out there.

The art of self-editing can be invaluable to a writer. So here's a few tips that may improve your method:

1) Follow your own best instinct.

2) Elicit help from a critique group or others in the field.

3) Develop lateral thinking: "What's another way to go about this?"

4) Take a break if you need it. Coming back later can bring with it a fresh perspective.

5) Beware of dialogue that is too long and wordy. Remember that longer paragraphs slow the pace down; shorter paragraphs will speed things up.

6) Refresh grammar rules to avoid errors like splitting participles or using run-on sentences, punctuation and spelling errors like "your" for "you're." Remember, you're a professional!

7) Avoid verbosity (which is a big word for 'avoiding big words.')

8) Keep the tone of your work and characters consistent: Casual? Prose-like? Sharp and witty?

9) READ OUT LOUD! You'll catch errors in flow and structure more that way.

10) Remember that a book is never finished, it just finally gets published.

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