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Editing is a big part of writing and all authors do it, or have someone do it for them. But it is done after the initial Story has been written. Once you have written several or more stories you may want to begin the editing process. But don't let it stop the flow of your work.
All right where's the old Grammar Book...
There are no hard, fast rules. Your writing should be clear, understandable and received as you intended it to be. It should flow smoothly and not be flat or weighty.
When you begin editing, you can check the spelling and grammar. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't matter if you don't know all the rules. Few people know all of them. It's not that grammar isn't important but if you worry too much about these things, nothing may get written. Look it over and make it the best you can. Look for repeated and overused words, poor punctuation, etc. Most word-processing programs have a good spell-check feature but grammar-checkers aren't yet developed to the point that they can be relied upon 100%.
Again we can use the analogy of a photograph. If there is too much clutter in a photo, we won't be able to discern the targeted object. So we zoom in tight on our subject to give the photograph the greatest impact. We want our story to have impact as well. So we crop away surplus words, awkward phasing and redundant sentences. Use descriptive words to add punch. Ensure words have a purpose. A concise story is fluid, making it easier to read and understand.
It may be difficult to see errors and awkward phasing right after you've written something. You may not see gaps or omissions. It can be hard to discern what's written and what's still in your head. This is a common problem with writers of all levels. What to do? Let the story sit for awhile, a week or two, before reading it again. With a fresh eye, things may pop out. Some people find reading their work out loud helps them hear it as others will.
- Does it make sense?
- Are there enough facts so others know what took place that day.
- Does it read smoothly?
A separate, critical eye can help identify unneeded words and sentences. Ask someone, maybe even a few people, to review your work. This is especially good to see if you've included enough details so the reader knows what's going on. A reader shouldn't have to stop to reread a sentence or ask for clarity.
Be open to feedback, especially if you've asked for it. Don't explain to your reviewer what you 'meant' to say. That has no value because you won't be able to explain it to every person who reads your story. Edit your story to efficiently include everything you meant to say. You may have to review and edit your story many times. Even best-selling authors find the real work is in the editing and rewrites, not the initial writing of their story.
You don't have to follow all or any of the feedback you're given, but don't love your work so much that you're unwilling to listen or change anything. You have to decide which suggestions will work for you. However, if three people give you the same advice, it's probably a good idea to give it serious consideration.
Think about the adverbs and adjectives you use. 'The girl ran very fast.' vs. 'The girl ran fast.' In either case you don't know how fast the girl ran. It depends on what people think is fast. 'The girl ran fast,' is a stronger statement. If the point is the girl ran faster than anybody else in town, well saying it that way makes your point. Or look for words that express great speed. A warm day may describe a lovely fresh day in late spring or an uncomfortable midsummer day. Describing sweat glowing on your face or running down your back gives a sense of the temperature.
If dialogue doesn't sound real, it's best to take it out.