How to self edit your draft!

Updated: Oct 24

5 steps to editing your first draft!


In my previous blog, I detailed my process for writing a first draft. There’s always a sense of euphoria and relief when you finish writing all those words. Afterwards, I like to set aside my draft and move on to other things for a while. When I return to it, these are my stage of self-editing before I turn it over to the pros!



1. Edit 1.

Does the story make sense!

If you set your draft aside and leave it for a few weeks, it’s amazing how ‘fresh’ it feels when you read it again. This is the ideal time to reread the whole story and check the story is coherent and consistent. Look for plot holes and fill in any gaps.


This is also where I fill in parts where I left myself little notes like *add something about where she got the ring here* or at the +++hotel in +++. Sometimes I kick myself for doing that! Still, when you’re writing it’s easier to put in these little placeholders and carry on.


2. Edit 2.

The detail.

When I’m busy with the overall story, I sometimes miss out things that help to ground the reader. While I don’t advocate huge passages of description, it’s important to have sensory details to keep the story alive and emotive. On my second read-through, I check if there’s enough detail for readers to get a feel for the people, places, etc. Or if there’s too much and it feels overwhelming.


If I’ve written long passages of dialogue, this is the edit where I punctuate it with character reactions or gestures so it isn’t just ‘talking heads’.


3. Edit 3.

Overused words

This editing stage can feel like it goes on forever! Writers are guilty of this all the time – the overused word! Whether it’s just, that, eyes, only, body or whatever, we all have them. They don’t ALL have to be cut, just instances where they occur close together or too frequently in a section. (Check out my resource page for a handy sheet to help with this)

4. Edit 4.

Grammar.

This is where I engage some software to give my writing a quick look over. I use both Grammarly and Pro-writing Aid to check each chapter. I use the free versions of these. With both programs, I advise caution.


Some of their suggestions aren’t correct and some of them are downright bizarre! I mainly use them to catch glaring mistakes which for some reason my eyes don’t notice!


I also like to use the voice function either on MS word or my Kindle to read the story back to me. This is a great way to find typos, double words, missing words etc.


5. Edit 5.

The final pass


I like to do this on my Kindle as it feels more like reading. For this edit, I try to read the story as a reader. If anything I don’t like comes up or something I feel doesn’t quite work, I highlight it and make a note then make corrections after.


Once I’ve completed these stages, I send my work off to my beta readers and attend to all their comments and suggestions before another read through. Then the book gets punted off to my editor, Aimee. If you would like to know more about Aimee’s job, you can read about it here.



If you want to read my tips for writing a draft, click here!


@MargaretAmatt

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