How to edit your way to a better book

Editing your manuscript

Every published author can tell you a simple truth: the magic happens in the editing and rewriting.
One of the first steps to publishing Ghost Girl (coming in 2020!), is using the self-edit guide provided by my publisher, Immortal Works. The guide gives some massively helpful tips to make your novel a better book. Here’s some ways to improve your book:
  • Show Me We’ve all heard that we should show and don’t tell. An example of telling would be, “Veronica felt sad.” It is still telling to say, “Veronica felt so sad that she couldn’t keep back the tears.” One way to show this, instead of tell it, might be, “Large tears ran down Veronica’s cheeks. She took short breaths and let out a sob.” Showing taps into the readers’ empathy and lets them feel what the characters feel.
  • Active Voice I struggle with this at times. If the subject comes before the verb in your writing, that’s called passive voice. An example of passive voice: The squirrel was chased by the dog. To make it active, take out was and reorder the sentence: The dog chased the squirrel. Using the active voice conveys a strong, clear tone, while the passive voice is subtler and weaker.
  • Remove those Adverbs Professional writers tend to use very few adverbs (they also avoid the word “very”). For example, take this sentence: “She ran quickly to the store.” Yawn. Now take out the adverb quickly. “She ran to the store.” Double yawn. To improve it somewhat, try “She sprinted to the store.” But now we’re getting into telling and not showing. How about this: “Her hair danced in the wind as she leaped a small dog on her way to the store.
  • Cut Filtering In Ghost Girl, there was a sentence, “I watched Ms. Neuman as she strutted across the stage.” See how the action is filtered through my main character’s eyes? To speed the pacing, I went with, “Ms. Neuman strutted across the stage.” Now, it’s more active, shorter, and the pace is faster.
  • Read it Out Loud Things that makes sense in our minds will sometimes sound awkward when read out loud. I’ve always used this to catch those awkward phrases and missing words—neither of those will be caught by spellcheck.
Take these steps and your manuscript will be better for it.