After I complete a full manuscript edit and enter in all of my corrections and additions, I print out the full manuscript again, make yet another cup of coffee, select a red or slightly less angry editing pen color, I like to use purple, and get to reading.
Now, hypothetically on the “second” round, there shouldn’t be near as many edits. For this draft, my goal is to edit the manuscript as a reader and while I read, I keep these questions in mind:
How does the plot move along? Am I just rambling on and on for no good reason and if so, is there going to be a problem if I don’t have a timeline for my characters? As a reader, I hate it when the pace drops and it seems as if the prose/dialogue is never ending just because the author is trying to up their word count. The danger of a slow moving plot is a bored reader and a bored reader is a reader that can be lost to the author for all eternity.
If I run across a particularly boring section, I switch into editor mode and start slashing long, drawn out prose and find out what the problem should be to move the story along and what is the consequence if the heroine/hero doesn’t find the next step in resolving the issue and get to work.
Is the story believable? While I enjoy a good adventure and a fast pace story, I wouldn’t want my 1890’s socialite heroine cliff diving. She’d probably drown in all those petticoats and heavy skirts…because we all know that proper 1890 heroines would only cliff dive fully clothed, right? Give them unique adventures, but try to make them as realistic as possible by asking yourself if it is probable that the hero/heroine would find themselves in this situation.
Do I show the story and not tell? Look for massive chunks of dialogue and ask yourself if you are over telling the story. If so, find some ways to creatively weave in the information into your plot and not just have your characters relay all the information through dialogue.
And finally, am I transported into the story? I think that with the right amount of showing and not telling, a reader can see their surroundings enough to imagine the rest. A good sign that I have gotten lost in the story is when I forget to edit. Yay!
At the end of the day, I want my story to transport my readers back to the 1890’s. I want them to see, hear, taste, feel and smell the story. I want it to become one of the books that keeps them up until 2am because they have to finish it. That’s the dream.
Do you have any tips on editing as a reader?
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