And other tips to help you self-edit
We all know how hard it is to edit your own work... and of course, that's a good thing for me and my small business (!) but on the other hand, I'm also an author, so yeah - I get it. It's hard to distance yourself from the intention behind the idea
In this blog, I've collated a few ways you can cheat your brain into believing that distance exists by literally looking at your work in a different way.
I asked some well-known children's authors how they approach this issue and whilst no one would actually admit to reading their manuscripts upside down in the bath only during a blood moon, they did have some very practical suggestions for making your words look and sound different.
Make your words look different
Tip 1. Try a different typeface
I always write in Calibri Light, but when I was querying I would make sure to change it all to TNR 12
And it looked ... GAH!
I'm possibly on my own here, but I can't stand TNR, to the point where it makes me twitchy. I can't look at it, my words look severe and formal. And that's not me at all!
But it does go to show how a different typeface or font can change the way you see your words. Perhaps when you're on your second-plus pass of the manuscript, try changing the typeface, and maybe line spacing too, and see if that helps you spot errors.
Tip 2. Try a different reading media
I also send my .docx to my Kindle reader. In a similar way, this makes the words look very different, and has the added benefit of making your WIP look like a book, which feels nice! Simply email your manuscript as either a Word document or PDF to your Kindle address ...
Here's how to find your Kindle email address:
Log into your Amazon account. Click on the "Account & Lists" tab at the top of the screen.
Click "Manage content and devices."
Click the "Preferences" tab at the top.
Scroll down to "Personal Document Settings." Here you'll see the email address associated with your Kindle device. It's important to note that if you have multiple Kindle devices, each device will have a different email, even though they are all registered to the same account.
You can also locate your Kindle email address on your Kindle device
To access your email address on your Kindle Paperwhite, you'll have to tap the menu button to open your Settings, followed by "Device Options."
Select "Personalize Your Kindle" to view your Send-to-Kindle email at the bottom of the screen.
I do all my full manuscript editing (my own, and clients') on my Kindle reader, not my PC (in case you were wondering.) If you don't have a Kindle reader, try reading on a tablet, or phone.
A less environmentally friendly approach is the old-fashioned print option. For me, this isn't sustainable or cost-effective, but it does give you the benefit that you can highlight, or make notes directly on the MS.
Tip 3. Try out how it sounds
Here's where you get yourself a large glass of water and get reading - aloud!
Reading your work aloud is invaluable for spotting clunky sentences, unnatural dialogue, and repeat words. But it can be hard going, especially with a 50,000-plus word manuscript. I read in short sections, and only once I'm sure all the structural editing is done.
Donna David, author of Oh No, Bobo! and Trains, Trains, Trains! suggests that for short texts, like picture books, having someone else read them aloud can be great for spotting where a reader is tripping over the narrative. This is especially useful for rhyming texts.
There is also software available to read your work aloud, and Word has its own inbuilt read-aloud function, although this can sound robotic and monotonous which might not be what you're going for.
An approach I share with YA author, Marisa Noelle, is to read the manuscript backwards. Not literally, but chapter by chapter, or even paragraph by paragraph. Again, this can help highlight areas that aren't working or scenes that you could actually cut.
Tip 4. Give it a rest
All of these tricks are worth a try, IMO. They might help, they might not, they might make your eyes go funny, but one thing everyone I spoke to agrees on, is that the best way for creating objective distance is to put some time between your brain and the words it created. Pop your file in a 'drawer' (not the bin) and leave it there for a while.
Time passing, until you can see the sentences in a clear-eyed way. But the deadlines are always well before that point! ~ SJ Wills, author of Bite Risk and The Orphans of St. Halibuts
I hope these approaches help you achieve that all-important clarity for your MS. And of course, if you need new eyes, I'm always here to help.
Join me next time for more editing chat, and if you'd like free feedback on your first page, click below and say hello
From EmDashED Freelance Novel Editing