Thursday, April 25, 2019

Q - Quick Self-edits: Authors' Tips A to Z of Writing

Dear readers and writers,

If you are reading the post series for the first time; in this series 'Authors' Tips - A to Z of Writing', eight authors – Devika FernandoPreethi VenugopalaParomita GoswamiAdite BanerjieReet SinghSudesna GhoshSaiswaroopa Iyer and I – write on various writing-related topics with the topic corresponding to the Alphabet of the Week.

The complete list is at the end of this post and today I am writing on the alphabet Q…

Let's begin...

Finished writing a story? Marvelous!
Kudos for completing one-third of your journey!

Yes, you read it right. Writing a complete story is only one-third of the job done. The next stage is to get it in a shape when it can be released to the readers. This requires editing, designing a cover and writing the blurb, and the last step is to publish and market it. All of these

So the next phase is editing. Every author self-edits prior to engaging an editor. So let’s dive straight into the various methods which help polish your dream story.

A word of caution don’t edit unless and until the story is complete, else you’ll end up wasting time and effort. A complete story is the entry criteria for the editing phase.


a) Cut the clutter: Read the story and remove anything which seems to be extra. Shorten the sentences as far as possible. The idea is to make every sentence crisp, thereby making the story well-paced and enjoyable.

“Second Draft equals first draft minus 10%.” —Stephen King

b) Remove the passive verbs: Specifically, look for passive sentences and where necessary change them to active ones without losing the essence of the scene. Remember not every passive sentence has to be converted to active.

c) Avoid the same start for consecutive sentences: A tip which I found on one of the critics’ site was that same word should not be used in three consecutive sentences in a paragraph. Change the sentence to give variation to the prose.

d) Revisit the dialogues tags: Relook at the dialogue tags and associated action beat. It is not necessary to have a tag with every dialogue. Only action beat with the name of the character also serves the purpose and makes the narration interesting.

e) Address your quirks: Make a list of your quirks which crept up while writing the first draft. For example, I have a habit of starting a few sentences with ‘And' or ‘But’, which sounds nice in internal monologue, but not in any other elements. After everything is done I take each of my quirks and correct them as necessary. This list will keep getting modified and will disappear as you gain expertise in the art and cultivate your own style.

f) Remove the niggles: Parse the story through the free functionalities of an automated tool; e.g. Grammarly, ProWriting Aid or any such tool. This will catch all the punctuation, preposition, articles, repetitions and spacing errors.

g) Read out loud: The last one is to take a printout and read out loud. This is the best way to catch odd sentence structure.

That’s it folks. Happy editing!

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3 comments:

  1. 'Don’t edit unless and until the story is complete, else you’ll end up wasting time and effort.' ---totally agree! I made so many {some major ones} last minute changes. After final {supposedly} editing and realized it was a bad idea.

    Very interesting and useful points. Read out loud is my favourite way to edit.

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  2. Wow! Awesome advice, Ruchi. Editing is indeed a major component, though sometimes overlooked, of writing a book.

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