5 Editing Hacks for New Writers
Have you finished your first draft and want to polish your writing before seeking beta readers? You don't want your betas to be distracted by too many typos, grammar mistakes, poor dialogue, or "telling."
Here are 5 easy ways to edit your draft so your betas can focus more on plot, characters, pacing, and the overall picture.
1. Find and Replace
This function can be used on both Word or Google Docs. It is a great way to search for adverbs, filter words, and filler words.
Why would I search for those words?
Adverbs "tell" instead of "show"--it's best to use them sparingly (see what I did there?) since you can often find a stronger verb. Filter words (saw, heard, feel, found, etc.) can pull the reader from the story. Cut them and your reader will be more immersed into the POV of your novel. Filler words (then, so, next, suddenly, that) can also pull the reader from the story and tell them what to expect instead of straight up showing them. I will post a separate article about adverbs, filter words, and filler words.
How do I search for these words?
On Word, click Edit --> Find --> Replace
On Google Docs, click Edit--> Find and replace
2. Send your document to your Kindle or E-reader
This is a great way to see your work in a different format. Of course, it always helps to print or purchase a proof copy of your work--but that can get expensive. A free alternative is to view your document on an E-reader. It is easier to pick up grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes when you read your work in a new location.
For Kindle, email your document to your kindle address which can be found in the settings of your device. It will be something like firstname.lastname@example.org
For other types of E-readers, you may have to do some research to find out how to download a copy of your work to the device.
3. No E-reader? No problem. Simply use a different FONT.
Seeing your work in a different font can help your eyes pick up on mistakes.
MAKE A COPY of your manuscript so the font change doesn't mess up your other formatting (sometimes font changes can mess up things that have been italicized, for example).
Change to font in your copy to something ridiculous like Comic Sans. Seriously. Your eyes will pick up on so many more mistakes since they aren't used to reading in that font.
4. Use a text-to-speech app or a website to LISTEN to your novel.
Our ears can pick up on things like grammar mistakes, awkward phrasing, and unrealistic dialogue.
Use speechify.com to listen to your novel.
5. Focus on your dialogue tags
Many new writers try to use crazy and unnecessary dialogue tags in their first draft. Most of the time the word "said" will be sufficient since it is almost invisible to the reader's eye.
Scan your novel for dialogue and make sure your tags are mostly "said," "asked," or--even better--NONE AT ALL!
Sometimes action bumpers give a better picture of what is going on in the scene. Also, if a conversation is strictly between two characters, you can skip the dialogue tags since the reader will be able to figure out who is speaking.
I hope these five editing hacks are helpful to you in your writing journey. These are easy ways to polish your work and make your writing sound more professional before sending it off to readers.
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