5 Tricks to Self-Edit with the Mind of the Reader

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.

  1. Read your work out loud. Read like a six-year old. Slowly, enunciating each word carefully, and with little to no inflection.
  2. 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.
  3. Check your work for over-used phrases. Readers can be bored with those.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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