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But here’s the thing. There are no writers — not even J.K. Rowling or Kenneth Oppel — who have written a perfect first draft. Every story needs to be edited, sometimes more than once.
I know, you can’t really edit your own work, but before you pass it over to your teacher or your friends and family to read, here’s some EDITING tips that will help you polish your piece.
1. Check for the obvious typos. Spellcheck is amazing, but it doesn’t catch everything. You might mean to say “bare” but you spelled it “bar” or “bear” — read every line and make sure your grammar and spelling is as good as you can get it. Don’t worry if you miss the odd typo, that’s what your actual editor (aka: teacher) will pick up on.
2. Read it out loud. It sounds silly, but if you read your story out loud, you’ll catch when sentences sound funny or maybe you’ve missed a word. You can also pick up on the dialogue and make sure everyone sounds natural. You never know when you’re going to have to read your work out loud anyway, so practice is always good!
3. Flush out the details. If you haven’t used much “sensory detail” (link to D post), then this is the place. Go through and see where you need more description. But not too much because you also need to…
4. Cut unnecessary words. You don’t need to write thousands of words to write a great story. Did you know there is a type of fiction that uses only SIX words? Seems impossible, but sometimes, you need to go through your words and cut out anything that seems repetitive. Write tight!
5. Let it sit. I know, this one is hard, especially if you’re writing close to a deadline. But sometimes, if I finish a story and then let it sit a few days, any problems stand out. If you can, give it a couple of days or even weeks to simmer.
Once you’ve EDITED your work, you come to one of my other favourite “E” words — the END. Just like your BEGINNING, your end must be well thought out. You want to make sure you tie up any loose ends, unless of course you’re closing off with a CLIFFHANGER.
The ending should give your reader some sense of satisfaction. It doesn’t have to be a Happily Ever After, though those are great, but it does have to “close” the story.
I love the ending to FIELDS OF HOME, the first comic in the Chase Superman Duffy adventure series — even though there isn’t a definitive answer to the question my grandpa asks, there is closure to the story, and in MY opinion, it’s magical.
Tomorrow is Sunday, but check back Monday for “F” where we explore FICTION. If you missed some of my posts this week, feel free to browse the archives.
And don’t forget to check out some of the other blogs in the A-Z Blogging Challenge.
— Chase Superman Duffy