The kids are all back at school, Marc is out of town, and I have reserved this week to do a final edit of my manuscript.
“But how do you do that?” my son asked me last night at dinner.
“Well,” I told him, “I start on page one and I begin to read the entire thing out loud.”
And then, I explained, I look for areas where there are continuity breaks. For example when I was working on a chapter yesterday I noticed that I had written about “taking Motrin *again*” and yet I hadn’t mentioned any previous times that we had taken it. Oops – I went back and added that first instance.
Gone are the days of using a red pen, now I read out loud from the screen to find words that have been dropped and spellings that made it through spell check but were the wrong word. (Form instead of from.) All edits are done using my computer.
If I come across a passage that is particularly clunky and I can’t think of how to fix it, I highlight it to remind me to come back to it and I move on.
Quotation marks that weren’t added because they are a pain in the neck when you are brain dumping your story need to be added to dialogue.
When you read out loud, you “hear” the areas where your voice might have changed. Where you (I) might have added a snarky bit that doesn’t add anything to the story – out it comes.
When I read out loud, I also hear where I might have gone a little too light on descriptions. I stop to recall what it was I saw and felt and I add in those details.
I also hear some of the repetition that I didn’t seem to catch when I wrote the piece. When spoken, those words jump out front and center.
Reading out loud isn’t for everyone, it’s a slow process and I have to have absolute silence which is why this week is so good to do it – Please don’t interrupt me when I’m deep in my story.
But for me, it’s the best method for a review.
How about you? How do you do a final edit?
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.