There is so much involved in self-editing; the lists and checkpoints can fill a book. But, in this article we’ll look at how to do a final once over. These are steps to be taken after you’ve proofread and self-edited the manuscript and had it critiqued, checked for grammar, storyline, punctuation, showing, etc.
1. Read you manuscript
Read it again. Try to read it slow and watch for all the self-editing tips you’ve learned and think you’ve applied. Spotting one’s one errors is difficult since we know what we wrote and intended. Some of the other tips here will help with this problem.
2. Change the font and read it again.
Surprisingly, you will spot errors you just glazed over before. You won’t run through it the same way you did with the original font.
3. Read each paragraph from the last sentence to the first
This is an interesting method for an additional self-edit. It’s helpful because your brain won’t be on auto-pilot. You will spot glitches within sentences that you would glaze over when reading normally.
Note: I don’t mean reading each sentence backward; read each sentence as you would normally, but read the last sentence first and work your way to the beginning of the paragraph.
5. Print your manuscript
Okay, I know what you environmentalists are thinking . . . I’m one also. I try very hard not to waste paper and protect our trees. But, there is a difference between reading on a computer and reading paper copy. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why our brain perceives it differently, it just does.
As you’re reading your manuscript, use a colored pen or pencil and mark the text you find errors in. Once you’re finished go back to your computer document and correct the errors.
The other practical aspect of this process is it’s a good idea to have a hard copy of your manuscript near its final stage. Unless you have an offsite backup, you can’t be too careful (I’d be skeptical of this also – you never know with any online system). I’ve lost a number of files when my computer broke. And, I’ve even lost files on zip drives when the drives failed. So, from experience I’m cautious when it comes to saving my work.
Another step to take, if you print this copy of the manuscript, is to recycle it. I reuse paper I print by using the back for notes; when it can be discarded, I recycle! You can either rip it into pieces or shred it so your valuable content isn't usable to others.
Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter-for-hire, freelance writer, and reviewer. She is also the founder and manager of VBT Writers on the Move, and co-moderator of a children’s writing critique group. You can learn more about Karen at: http://karencioffi.com/media-page/ and be sure to sign up for her FREE monthly newsletter, A Writer’s World, at: http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com. You’ll get a free e-book for doing so!