Once you are finished writing your story, it comes the time for editing. This can be very overwhelming. You might want to edit smaller pieces at a time like one paragraph at a time.
When I start to edit, I read only the first paragraph. After all, I already know what will happen next so I don’t have to read on to get the context of what is happening within the lines. I focus on the first paragraph.
How Does It Sound?
Read your paragraph slowly. Pretend you are seeing it for the first time. It helps if you haven’t looked at it in a few days or weeks. It’s all fresh.
How does it sound to you? Does it make sense? How does it flow?
Does your paragraph do what it’s supposed to do? Question yourself.
Read it out loud. Read it backwards. Make it flow smoothly.
What Can be Reworded?
No matter how good of a writer you are, there will be many sentences that need to be re-worded. As you are writing, you are not quite thinking of the perfect wording. You want to get the idea out. That means your wording will probably not be just right. When you go back over your draft, think how you can reword sentences.
They can always be worded better. And don’t get overwhelmed or discouraged. Think of it as a game. I enjoy trying to find different ways to say the same thing.
When you are looking at re-wording things, you need to look at several different aspects. Start with the actual words. Are there better words you can use? Usually there are, and we can find them when we stop and really think about it.
Maybe your sentence is too wordy. It is not uncommon for a writer to try to put too much into one sentence. Most long sentences can be condensed into something smaller and more powerful.
Can Anything be Removed?
As you go over each of your paragraphs, question whether or not you can remove it without hurting the story. Many times there are sentences that can be removed as they are redundant, too wordy, or just not necessary. Take it out and see how it sounds.
Don’t get upset about deleting something. It’s okay. Trimming off a few words, sentences, or paragraphs can be a good thing. Think of it as trimming the fat.
Look at a section and see how it would read without it. You might be surprised. Many first draft pieces can be removed. And then some things might need to be added.
Can Anything be Added?
Look over your material and see if anything needs to be added to it? Maybe it is more description. What are people wearing? You don’t want to add too much, but you don’t want to have too little either.
Ask yourself this, can the reader ‘see’ the character, scene, or action well? You might need to add some visual aides. It can be as simple as a hand gesture or tucking a piece of hair behind the ear. Maybe add the color of the eyes if you haven’t already.
You don’t want to add unnecessary words, but see if you can add anything that will enhance the story.
Move On and Repeat
Once you finish with that one paragraph, move one to the next one. Repeat what you did above. Before you know it, the process becomes easier each time.