Self-editing is difficult. It’s hard to see our own errors after hours of being engaged with our own written works. Yet, self-editing is a necessity as a part of the publishing process.
Below are five tricks you can use to self-edit your work with the mind of a reader or consumer of your work.
- Read your work out loud. Read like a six-year old. Slowly, enunciating each word carefully, and with little to no inflection.
- Have someone read your work out loud to you. Find a friend who will sit with you – on the telephone or in-person – and read your work back to you. Listen to every last word and listen like you’re not the writer. Let them tell you a story. Your story.
- Check your work for over-used phrases. Readers can be bored with those.
- If a fictional work, then make sure all of your characters’ dialogue is unique to their individual personalities. They should not all sound the same or use the same phrases.
- If writing in first person narrative, then make sure that your narrator is narrating in past tense but offering dialogue in present tense.
Bonus trick: Read a passage backwards. Begin reading the last sentence of a paragraph backwards. It tricks the brain by removing anticipation. It should help with flow, seeing each sentence in isolation, and identifying mechanical errors.
Do you have any self-editing tricks? If so, leave them in the comment section.