After a general revision of my manuscript – where I wanted to make sure that the story, plot and characters made sense – I’ve started a new round of more in depth revision/editing of my writing. To be honest, I wasn’t actually looking to this stage. I still have memories of endless rounds of editing in a previous manuscript that didn’t end that well (that project is now on standby for the moment). I remember spending a lot of time on individual paragraphs, re-writing the sentences, changing words, sentence order, etc. and making the editing process so long that I began to hate it.
With this new project, my approach has been very different from the beginning. I had learned lots of lessons from my previous project and I didn’t want to make the same errors on this one. Writing the first manuscript was fun. It took me a lot of time but the process was enjoyable. The story and characters acquired a life of their own which helped me sustain the story until the very end (and unexpectedly with a chance for a second part if some day I decide to do it). I focused first on making sure that the characters were strong and that the story made sense. Later I would worry about the writing. And now the time has come.
I began editing a couple of weeks ago and surprisingly it hasn’t been that bad. I’m not hating it and I still feel energized enough to continue this lengthy process. For this editing round, I’ve set up a list of what I really want to check in my writing:
- Verbalization – that I’m using strong verbs and that I’m avoiding the “to be” verb whenever possible as I know it makes writing weak. Although, sometimes it makes more sense than any other verb.
- Adverbs – Following the advice from many writing books, I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible.
- “Excess” words – detecting those words that don’t add much to the writing, like “very”.
- Passive voice – trying to get rid of this as much as possible as it also weakens the writing – although not always possible.
- Order of sentences in a paragraph – Are they in the best order? Could I improve the order.
- Connection with next paragraph – Does the paragraph ends well? Can I connect the paragraphs better, making it more interesting and prompting the reader to continue reading further?
There are many other “factors” to consider when editing your own writing and I know I haven’t considered all of them. But I wanted to only take into account the ones that I consider the most important ones. I didn’t want to re-write all the words thinking of all possible grammatical issues/improvements and fall into a never ending process again.
Aside from that, I’m using three tools to help me with the points above:
http://www.hemingwayapp.com/ to help you detect passive voice, adverbs, long sentences, etc
https://www.naturalreaders.com/online/ – this tool reads out loud your paragraphs. It’s very helpful as listening a voice read your text makes it easier to detect if the writing sounds good, if there are some weird structures, and if the sentences could be ordered better.
Grammarly – I’m using the free browser version that detects misspellings and basic punctuation and grammatical structure. It sort of double-checks the same as the Hemingway App. There is a paid version but too expensive for me right now.
Do you know of other free tools that might also help in this process?
What else do you consider that it’s important to check when revising your writing?