Books to be returned… (Photo credit: Hash Milhan)
For the final post in my week of resources I am going to cover off on the editing process. This is something I am elbows deep in at the moment and an activity that can prove more tiresome and taxing than anything else you will do on your journey to publication.
As I have mentioned before everybody works differently, but quite often I come across a handy tip that I haven’t tried out or considered. Here are the 3 things I have found most useful in editing and proofreading.
1) For your final edit, DON’T edit front to back. Start from a random chapter and keep doing another random chapter until you have finished. Alternatively start at the end and go backwards. When you edit from page one to the last, you will become engrossed in the story, regardless of how hard you try, and will miss things that you will pick up taking a random chapter in hand. Try it, It really works!!
2) Don’t trust your spell check. Regardless of what program you use to write, never think that the spell check function is a substitute for actually reading over every single word you have written. There will be more actual errors than you care to think of regardless of how sophisticated the spell checker is. Errors only a human eye will pick up.
3) Use your beta readers properly. Firstly, try and find those friends or family members that you believe will give you the most honest feedback. If you can find a stranger, that would be even better, but that could be difficult. Once you have managed to convince a few people to proofread your book, don’t allow them to fully dictate the feedback. When asked for feedback, people are inherently lazy and will also forget a lot of things that they have read. To fix this make sure you go into your meeting/discussion with the right questions in hand. Get it all on paper. Then, (and this part is important!) ask every beta reader the exact same questions and compare their answers.
I have a rule. If more than half of the people who have read your book find an issue, change it. If half or less don’t like it, you the author has creative authority and makes the final decision. The questions you ask will determine how useful the feedback you get is. I suggest specific questions such as;
– If you had to change one thing in the book what would it be?
– In which points did you feel a character acted out of character?
– Which names do you not like?
– I need to cut out a scene, which one would you cut?
You need to make sure you are getting good feedback and sometimes you need to prompt for negative feedback. If you leave it up to the beta readers, you will likely get some good stuff, but not all of the feedback that they have stored in their heads.
That wraps up my week of tools and resources. I hope that you were able to find something new, or something that you had forgotten about. Best of luck with all your writing!