Self-Editing—Ten Suggestions

  1. Read everything you can find about self-editing, but don’t believe everything you read!
  2. Go for it, but only to polish the manuscript before you pay your professional copy editor.
  3. Don’t trust spell check, auto grammar check, or the thesaurus.
  4. Know your characters inside out.
  5. Don’t let adjectives and adverbs do the heavy lifting for weak nouns and verbs.
  6. Cut suddenly, very, thought to himself (who else would he be thinking to?), shrugged her shoulders (what else is shruggable?). All flab.
  7. Dialogue must be sharper, cleaner, smarter than real-life speech. Delete um, well, you know—all those noise-makers we fill our conversations with.
  8. Go from A to D. Today’s readers are savvy enough to infer steps B and C. In other words, we know that to open a door, someone has to go to the door and turn the knob.
  9. Hire a copy editor.
  10. Show yourself that you have what it takes to be an author: keep your mind open to new ideas.
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