When it comes to editing we must face facts. Time, effort and attention to detail are all crucial if you really want to get your novel in the best shape possible, and ensure that it is ready to go to print or to be sent off to agents and publishers.
However, sometimes we are not in the mood to spend our time pouring laboriously over our books and need some short and sweet quick fixes that deliver a big impact but don’t require too much brain power!
So, with that in mind, here are some simple, easy solutions to help authors quickly polish their novels when they want to make some progress.
Find and replace
If you know or suspect you over use a word do a simple search on your computer to find all up all instances of it, then you can replace it with an alternative or delete it altogether to ensure you don’t sound repetitive!
Using an app
Use an app such as Grammarly to help you discover spelling and grammar errors. You can simply paste in chapters and it will help highlight them as well as tell you what you should do instead - a quick and hassle-free way of polishing your book.
Looking for unusual synonyms
Pay attention to the descriptive words you’ve used in your novel. If you come across something a little bland or cliched think about how you can change it to make it more unique and compelling. Using a thesaurus can help you create new, unusual ways of describing things which will surprise and delight your reader.
Reading for inspiration
If you aren’t in the mood for editing you can always do some reading and research to find inspiration for your book instead. Reading is always pleasurable and doing so is a great way to discover a new direction or exciting and unusual ideas for your own novel.
Highlighting things to come back to
Inconsistencies, clutter, parts that just don’t ‘sit right’… when you read through your novel you are bound to come across examples of all of these. However, instead of trying to fix them right away, simply highlight them, make a few notes and come back to them later. This way you can get through a lot more of your book in one session and feel you have made good progress.
Do some cutting
There is nothing more satisfying than being brave and bold with your book and just cutting out sentences, paragraphs, even whole chapters that you know, deep down, simply don’t work. It can be hard to part with those carefully crafted words, but if you do you’ll realise how much better your book reads without them.
Polishing your novel can be extremely rewarding and these quick fixes are great for when you want to make good headway in your editing without having to use too much brain power! Why not give them a try?
This is pretty much what I have been doing with my memoir. Most of these except for using an app. The Grammarly app sounds like a good tool. I'd read about it on another person's blog and that it catches errors in grammar, something Spellcheck doesn't catch. All too often, I'd look through my written work and see error such an omitted word or two or a misspelling as such "then" when I mean "them" (or vice versa). Spellcheck will recognize either word as spelled correctly, but cannot determine the context in which the word has been used. I'm just hesitant about getting apps such as these.
Early on, I found myself trying not to get repetitive and looking for instances in which I sounded that way. Just what I did right now 🙂
As for highlighting things to come back to later, I haven't exactly been doing that one--at least not in the way that has been suggested. I've often been looking over one to three chapters per day and finding things I want to cut or replace, then making my chosen changes right away, so I won't forget. It just works easier this way for me. I guess everyone can do this in the way they find best for them. As long as as you get this done.
Avoiding cliches was one of the things we discussed in the memoir writing class I took over the summer. In the mini-memoir draft I submitted for the class, I'd used the phrase "final nail in the coffin," which the teacher said was an example of a cliche. I am now trying to determine if the phrase "making a big deal out of nothing" can be considered a cliche. BTW, the advanced memoir writing class by the same teacher will be taking place on Wednesdays nights in October and November.
And of course, I'm always reading something, even if it's not something that inspires me. But I still keep reading.