Writing sometimes produces a mess. Editing is where the art comes out. But it’s not easy to edit and polish your own work. For me, working with professional editors at my book publishing houses has helped train me into being able to do a pretty darn good job for myself though.
Here’s 4 questions to ask yourself as you edit:
– Can I “get there faster?” Can you say what you’re trying to say in a better way in order to get to your point faster? Try to combine sentences to be more concise and snappy to get the reader to what you’re trying to say without them drowning in just a pretty way of you saying it.
– Is there any way to be more specific? When you’re more specific, you’ll tend to “show” the reader the scene or how a character is feeling. When you’re general, you’ll tend to “tell” them. For this reason, try to avoid summarizing. Instead of saying “I felt terrified,” spell it out: “I felt for the first time in a long time, vulnerable to the elements and without any protection at all. My newly erected tent spun out into the wild during a rained-out camping trip — leaving me drenched and facing a fearless bear.”
– Am I missing any details? Try to add what your character is wearing, seeing, smelling or what a place feels like, sounds like, and more. Do this: close your eyes, temporarily put yourself in the scene, and look around. Open you eyes. Now try embellishing what you already wrote.
– Can I add an example to illustrate my point? If you’re writing a how-to book, give solid examples. Write a story or give a case study to show the reader what you’re talking about. This can really help a concept stick. Just be careful you aren’t too lengthy. There’s nothing worse than reading a book full of testimonials.