Editing a Book

Sep 13, 2022Blog

Editing a book is a complex process but essential. Editing furnishes a book and complements words penned down by the author.

Authors frequently prefer to send their rough draughts to a publishing house, which will take all the steps necessary to get the book on the shelves. From editing to marketing, everything is overseen by them. However, many authors are now choosing to self-edit their manuscripts with the help of an online book editor and publish them through the available online platforms.

This article discusses a few steps to edit a book for an author who chooses to edit their books independently. These steps help them edit their manuscript and write the best draft version.

Writing versus Editing

The first step is to keep writing and editing apart. We tend to write the best version of a bit on the first go. You should finish writing, even if it is incomprehensible. Editing should be done towards the end. 

Read out loud

After writing the first draft, you should read the manuscript aloud. This will help you spot grammatical errors, dullness, or monotony in the language. 

Start with major changes

Big-picture adjustments, or significant changes like shifting scenes, eliminating characters, or even rewriting the storyline, come first in the editing process.

  • Make sure your primary character is introduced early.
  • Make sure the reader comprehends the internal and exterior motivations of your characters, especially the antagonist, as well as their objectives, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Remove any scenes or even entire chapters that don’t advance the plot.
  • Fill in any gaps or consistency errors in your story’s plot. Pay close attention to the logic of your plot if you’re a pantser. 
  • Make sure your story has a sound structure.
  • Make sure your protagonist and the supporting cast have built character empathy. Even a small amount of reader sympathy for your villain is desirable.
  • Make sure the character arc of your hero is evident.
  • Any rushed scenes should be rewritten, and extended scenes should be cut.
  • Ensure that both internal and external conflict serves as the driving force for fiction.
  • A single point of view should be used to tell the story of each scene. Too many aspiring writers make the error of failing. Multiple primary characters’ points of view can be changed, but never inside the same scene.
  • Do more research if you need to strengthen your plot or make your book seem more plausible.

Editing each scene

At this point in the editing process, you must ensure that each scene advances the plot or introduces a character.

  • A story or chapter that eventually starts after a page or two of scene building and backstory is known in the literature as throat-clearing. 
  • Don’t direct the stage too much. You don’t have to describe every character’s moves or what they do with each hand in every scene.
  • Don’t use clichés. This is not limited to specific words or phrases. There are also overused plot devices like having the protagonist wake up to an alarm clock, having a character describe herself while gazing into a full-length mirror, and having the protagonist’s future love interests cross paths.
  • Employ specifics. They give a genuine touch to the book.
  • Give the reader some credit. Let them work well with their imagination with precise writing. 
  • Refrain from explaining every detail. Write concise, precise sentences.
  • People refer to writing that mimics real life but falls short of advancing the plot as “cut on the nose.” Keep things simple; don’t divert the reader with unnecessary details.
  • Don’t use passive voice. To strengthen your writing, eliminate as many verbs that describe a state of being as possible.
  • Ensure your dialogue advances the plot, shows a character or gives information. Remove it if it doesn’t.

Avoid repetitive use of words

Overusing words and phrases weakens your sentences and diverts readers.

For instance, you might use the words very or very frequently or describe eyes as shining more than once. As you self-edit your book, be on the lookout for them.

  • Pick the simple and plain term over the obtuse one. Think of your reader first and retain your content as king if you are tempted to impress them with your vocabulary or a fancy turn of phrase. Don’t encroach. 
  • Don’t use the phrases up and down unless they are necessary.
  • Omit the term “that”. Use it only to give clarity. 
  • Avoid using hedging verbs like “nearly laughed,” “a slight smile,” “a slight frown,” etc.
  • Avoid using literal language when figurative language is intended.
  • Avoid attributional mannerisms. People express themselves verbally; they do not wheeze, gasp, sigh, chuckle, grunt, snort, respond, retort, exclaim, or declare. Such adjectives take focus away from the conversation.
  • Use actions instead of attribution where appropriate.

Copyedit your draft

Every word is examined during the final revision stage to ensure its maximum strength. Look out for any typos or grammar mistakes as well. Manuscripts.ai and other ebook writing software can be helpful.

  • Keep your punctuation, typefaces, and size consistent.
  • Don’t overuse the adjectives. Adjectives are not necessary for good writing; powerful nouns and verbs are. Use a strong verb instead of an adjective plus a weaker verb wherever possible.
  • Leave out terms that are not necessary. Every writer needs to have this as their hallmark. 
  • Avoid oblique repetitions.  Reading your book aloud will help you identify any sentences that are unclear, protracted, or poorly written.
  • Verify the text for inconsistencies, grammatical mistakes, and typos. Keeping track of how you spell particular terms may be helpful (e.g. ebook, eBook, or e-book).
  • Address punctuation mistakes.

Run through a final proofread

While proofreading, check for issues like misspelt words, errant punctuation, and improper dialogue structure. It’s essential to proofread if you’re self-publishing. Readers will catch your blunders even if you don’t.

There is no ideal method for editing a book. Your editing is flawless if the final product is neat, intelligible, and transparent. If the final product is good, it doesn’t matter whether you follow these steps, consult a monk on top of a mountain, or spread out all the pages on your floor and alter every sentence. These steps are an essential guide to getting started!