7 SELF EDITING TIPS

If you are about to enter the self-editing phase, my experience will either inspire or terrify you…

You know I love a good system so I had to create one to get myself OUT of the self-editing doldrums…
This was it…

1. THE FLOW EDIT – Once finished my first rough draft it was time to get up on the balcony to see the sequence of the whole book. I knew I had covered all the topics I wanted to, but a natural ‘flow’ only emerged after I had finished that first draft. Then I saw how I could break it into sections, I shuffled the chapters about to get the flow just right…
2. THE FIRST ROUGH DRAFT – Time to upload into MS word and turn spell check. (I write in with spell check firmly OFF). I cannot type for crap. Or spel for that matter so I watched a million red lines appear. So THAT made for a fun few hours. While I was at it I tidied up any other obvious mistakes that jumped out.
3. THE FIRST READ THROUGH – Did this one on screen. A rough tidy up, what I would call a ‘Teenage Boy Tidy’. If you have one, or have been one, or can imagine one you will know what I mean. Only the obvious stuff. Grammar. Unfinished sentences that got forgotten. Whole chapters that could now be deleted as they don’t fit in to the flow. But really – still a lot shoved in the cupboard to be dealt with later.
4. THE PRINT OUT & READ ALOUD – Now the fun starts! This is the ‘Mum Tidy’. Time to open that cupboard and look under the bed (yikes!). I made the whole document triple spaced and printed it out – so there was a ton of room for comments. Sit down with a red pen and a glass of red. Or a bottle. Or maybe a barrel. Then (and this was the fun bit!) I did an entire read through – OUT LOUD, pen in hand. I was brutal! When I did this for my first book I went from 35,000 words to 25,000! In this one I only culled a few thousand. I was looking for repetition, over-explanation, under-explanation. This is my my Moriarty. It is a sloow and at times tedious process. I found myself washing windows and rearranging my cutlery drawer… I had to bribe myself to sit down with that red pen some days!
5. THE HONE MY VOICE EDIT – Time to really identify MY voice. Then make sure it was consistent throughout. I have a bit of a subversive and cheeky tone, so I wanted to make sure I kept it up. You need to decide if you are naughty (like me!)? Or are you serious, compassionate, informative and highbrow? Are you casual and sweet? Whatever you are, own it!
6. THE GOLDFISH EDIT – 6 seconds. That is how long you have to impress a goldfish before they move on to the next bright shiny object in the tank. Our average reader is a goldfish. So I wanted to to do a read through and make sure I kept is super interesting or I knew I’d be beaten by Bejeweled, Pokemon go or Desperate Housewives.
7. FEAR EDIT – Seek it out and embrace it.; that is my theory. If I am not shitting myself at the thought of hitting publish, then I shouldn’t bother. For example, I have a whole chapter on my poo – MY poo! Good lord – what was I thinking? That sort of fear.