What’s the mantra of turning a powerful idea into well-structured and publishable story? The mantra is easy, “edit, edit, and edit”. For most writers, editing may not seem as enjoyable as writing but the role that editing plays in creating powerful stories can never be neglected. So let’s find out what measures one should take while editing a story.
#1 be a ruthless editor
Let’s be frank, we all love our work. We spent days planting an idea and watching it grow into a full-fledged story. While writing a story or novel, the first draft must contain rubbish as well as brilliant ideas. Never edit while making your first draft. As all the great writers say “the waste bin is a writer’s best friend”. But as you wear the editor’s lens, you should see through your work like the worst critic. Asking questions, replacing words, or even eliminating characters. Once you take over as the editor be as ruthless as possible, critiquing every aspect of your story.
#2 take a deep breath and calm down
Finishing the final line of your story is always provocative, we want to jump right off to editing, finish it as soon as possible and show it to people or send it to a publishing house. But this is arguably the biggest mistake that aspiring writers make. After finishing your story, most probably you’re feeling good about it, you’d be reading it with admiration, but this would limit the possibility of you being able to criticize your work. It is important to take a break and calm down. This could be a couple of days or even a week depending on the length of your piece and the time you’ve invested in writing it. The next day after your break, you’d probably see a lot of mistakes that would’ve been washed in your overwhelming joy of completing your work. A break will provide the writer with a fresh perspective and will help to detect mistakes easily.
Proofreading is the first and foremost step of editing any text. While proofreading you should closely examine spellings, punctuations etc. The quality of your story or the elegance of your character doesn’t matter if your basics are wrong. The first error any publisher is looking for is spellings and punctuations, so make sure you eliminate all such mistakes.
#4 One by one
You should never edit your piece in one go. Instead, do it one by one. After proofreading, you could read it all at once, then you could make notes, after that, you could omit inappropriate paragraphs and then polish characters and so on. A writer must always keep in mind that editing is not secondary to writing, it's an inevitable part that completes the writing process. Doing this one by one will help to concentrate on different elements of the story including character, style, tone, etc.
#5 Revisit narrative, characters, and structure
Don’t ever be reluctant to change things while editing your story, even if it is the character arc, narrative style, or story structure. Experiment with your work. Try changing the linear plot or the narrative technique. Bring in new elements, add texture and layers to your story. You might sometimes be surprised by the outcome. One of the most important things to decide while editing is the pacing of your story. You could shuffle, omit, and add things to adjust the pace of your story and set a unique tone.
#6 don’t forget the details
Your first draft will probably suck, even if it’s a great story or have unique characters there is a chance that it will be clumsy and chaotic. This is where detailing comes in, detailing is the invisible hands that make any good story great. Details determine the identity of your story. Mostly it is these details that the readers take away with them. It can be simple as a unique slang or specifics that the characters love. These kinds of details make the stories more relatable and appealing. As the editing proceed make sure your details are crisp and pointy so that reader notice them right off. This comes in very handy if your novel or story involve fantasy world building.
#7 do it every day
After completing your editing, you shouldn’t leave it alone. Polish your work if possible every day or at least once in a while till it gets to a publisher. The more you do the better your story.
If your first draft sucks, it’s okay, every great story was once a shitty first draft. What made it great is thorough editing. Don’t shy away from editing your work. The more you do, the better writer you will be. Keep writing and keep on editing, because the world needs great stories more than ever.
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