I’m one of those writers who love to edit, but I’m not compulsive about it. I don’t do a lot of editing while I write, but I do use a few tricks I’ve learned in my experience of novel writing. I do what’s comfortable for me, some may not fit you.
Tool #1 is my own awareness.
I start my writing session by reading at least the scene I last wrote – if not the last chapter. This gets me back in the grove, but it also gives me a chance to catch simple errors that I don’t need to worry about later. It also alerts my brain to repeated carelessness I might be falling into. Eventually, I hope to train my brain to catch mistakes as they happen. I know, sort of far-fetched.
Tool #2 is Word’s voice.
After I finish a good chunk of writing, say a couple chapters, or one long chapter, I use the Text to Speech feature in Word. This reads my manuscript back to me and I am amazed at how many errors or inconsistencies I hear during this process. Not all versions of Word have this, but I love it. I do this after the manuscript is done too. Even though the voice is a tiny bit mechanical, I still get so much out of hearing the story read to me. Go HERE to learn more about that feature. Note: Adobe also has a text to speech program, but it seemed rather complicated to find and use.
Tool #3 is FIND.
I use the “find” feature (in MS Word) to check whether I’ve gone back to my old habit of overused words. I search for but, always, had, really…you know the ones. This process I save for after I’ve finished the manuscript.
Tool #4 is a monitor.
I used to print out my manuscript and edit that way, but I found myself getting bored with flipping pages, and when I went to make corrections on the computer, the process was too tedious for me. It seemed repetitive and I was too easily distracted. So I just edit from my computer screen….but, I hook up my computer to a monitor screen that is bigger and doesn’t strain my eyes so much. It just looks different enough that I feel I have a new perspective of the writing.
Tool #5 is Word’s Navigation.
A friend showed me how to use the Navigation Pane in Word to track my Chapters and subheadings. Here is a picture of what it looks like in use:
I will do a short post about how I use the Navigation Pane soon. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Guess which way I go?
So there are some editing tools I am comfortable with. I know the list of ideas could go on and on. We each have to find what works for us.
Are you a compulsive editor? Do you enjoy the process?