Monday, October 20, 2014

Writer's Resource: Revision and Editing Tips and Tricks From The Publishing World

When revising, it's easy to become desensitized to the words on the screen and miss typos.  Especially if you're writing from the same device, day after day, using the same font style and size.  While typos might not seem like a big deal, they can be the difference between coming across as a professional writer and coming across as an aspiring writer.  So before you hit send on that next partial or full request, here are a few tips and tricks to help you spot errors.

1. Review your manuscript on a different device.  

This will shake you out of your comfort zone and help you spot errors that you otherwise might have missed.  If you write on a desk top, consider reviewing on your ereader or tablet.  If you write on a tablet, shake it up and review from your phone.

2. Change the font.

Your eyes may be numb to your standard Times New Roman 12pt, so when proofing consider increasing to 14pt, change the color, or switch to Courier or another font you're less accustomed to.

3.  Read aloud. 

This is a great way to spot missing words that your mind auto-fills when reading.  It will also help you spot awkward sentences and unnatural dialogue.  Consider doing this with a critique partner for additional input.

4.  Increase the margin size.

You'll reduce the words on the page, which will make it easier for your brain to focus.

5. Highlight the text or add a background color.

Similar to changing the font color, changing the color around the font will shake up the way your brain processes the words.

6. Leverage text-to-speak software and apps. (Hint: the iPhone comes with one!)

Like reading aloud, this will help you find missing words and awkward sentences.  It's also a great option for people with long work commutes, as you can listen during your writing downtime and see how your story pacing is progressing.  Even better is that anyone with an iOS 5 already has text-to-speak capabilities.  Here is a handy video that shows you how to activate it.

7. Take a looong break.

You've heard me preach about the benefits of taking a Ross-and-Rachel-style break from manuscripts before, so I won't harp too much on this. But taking time away from a story will help you shake off your comfort with the words so you can spot the errors you previously read right through.

8.  Use beta readers and critique partners.

Another set of eyes is always a must before you send anything off to an agent or editor.

9. Only edit one chapter a day.

Avoid power-revising, and instead give yourself longer stretches of time to process fewer words.  Scour vs. skim. Your brain will thank you.

Happy writing!

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