Kill Your Darlings, and Other Editing Tips for Creating Your Best Work

Arguably one of the most important steps in writing is editing. There are several levels of editing that writers must take into consideration, including organizational editing, copyediting, and proofreading. Getting a high-quality edit may take more time and money that one might hope, however it is well worth it in the long run. 

Give it time
If you are doing a first-round edit on your work, consider putting it away and not looking at it or even thinking about it for a few days. Taking a break, it allows you to see the text with new eyes and may allow you to discover some ways to make it better. 

Have someone else edit it
Giving your work to someone who has never seen it before, someone who is not in your head and who can think with a critical mind and a critical eye, is crucial to bringing your work to its full potential. One of the most common tips you will hear from professional writers is to never try to edit your own work. And it is a sage piece of advice as it is one of the most difficult things to do. 

Multiple rounds
There are many different levels of editing required to bring a work to its final state. However, it is impossible to consider all of these different types of edits in just one readthrough. Break your edits down into sections by reading it over several times. Be careful not to get stuck in a readthrough loop, though. You can only read the text so many times before it will become meaningless, or until you will no longer be able to find any new errors. Three times is a good number to stick to. 

Go slowly
Our brains tend to automatically edit out errors when we are and word processors may not catch certain errors. By editing slowly and carefully, you’ll be sure to catch tiny, but serious, mistakes. 

Double check tense
One of the most common errors, even for professional, seasoned authors, is tense switching. Although many readers may not notice, the truth is that this error could be the difference between your book looking amateur or looking like a truly professional manuscript. 

Read out loud
Reading out loud forces you to go a bit more slowly, allowing you to pick out small errors as you go. It also allows you to really listen to the flow that your work takes.  

Kill your darlings
This charming little saying has been attributed to several famous writers over the past couple of centuries. From Oscar Wilde to William Faulkner, kill your darlings has made the rounds, and alludes to the fact that sometimes writers need to just let go. As a writer, there will be things you desperately want to keep in your work, but that just do not fit or add to the story: you need to cut those things.

On your time

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