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10 Secrets of Book Editing Your Must Know

edit a bookFor some, writing is a labour of love. Others feel compelled to write, with their books consuming them day and night. But we all know that writing is not simply writing – it is also editing. For many, this is where things get really tricky.

Editing a book as well as a short story editing is an important process. A book can’t be published until everyone is satisfied with the book edit. But knowing how to edit a book is not something everyone knows how to do. Often, even the writer will admit to finding this process difficult and painstaking. The world’s greatest novelists – Tolstoy, Wilde, Dostoyevsky – all had editors who helped them get their works over the finish line whilst they took a break. Tolstoy, despite being recognised as a genius, needed an editor.

In the modern world of self-publishing, writers often have to be their own editors. To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of 10 secrets of professional book editing that you really should know.

1. Look Out For Overused Words

A common writing mistake is overusing the same word. For example, if you’re writing a book advising young girls on how to prepare for the future, it could be easy to overuse the word ‘young girl’. When you edit a book, you should be on the lookout for examples of this and consider creative ways you can get around the issue. Synonyms are your friend.

2. If A Word Looks Strange – Check It Out

When we write our books, we occasionally get carried away and throw in a big word that sounds like it fits and which we think we know what it means. Carrying out a book edit means you can look up those dodgy words whose meaning you’re not 100% sure of. Seriously, you don’t want to be caught writing ‘I loved her like anomaly’ even if it sounds cool.

3. Make Sure Your Characters Are Consistent

When writing a lengthy novel, it’s not always easy to keep a character consistent throughout. It’s only when we edit a book that we realise how different they’ve become during the novel.

4. Keep Backstory At A Minimum

As we write our stories, it can be easy to throw in some backstory to keep ourselves informed of why an event is taking place. But readers don’t need to read this.

5. Make Sure Your Reader Is Not Confused

A book edit gives you the chance to confirm settings, locations, character names and so on. These are the kind of important details that we sometimes forget the first time around. You know where an event is taking place, but make sure your audience does too.

6. Keep Things Interesting

When we edit a book, we read it through and therefore get a feel for the story. If you have come across a section in which little happens, consider a rework. You need to keep the reader interested. If the story has gone flat, give it new life.

7. Consider Your Target Audience

When Henry Miller wrote Tropic of Cancer, he didn’t even care if it was published or not. As such, it was littered with offensive words and America banned it. Always keep in mind who you’re writing for and conduct your book edit with this in mind.

8. Don’t Move The Story On Too Quickly

Pacing is important for a good story. If everything moves along too quickly – such as two characters falling in live three pages after meeting – your book edit will help you to resolve this issues.

9. Always Push The Plot Forward

Screenwriters have a saying: ‘enter a scene late, leave early.’ This basically means that in films, everything that is on screen pushes the plot forward. If something doesn’t push the plot forward, it’s written out. Your novel should apply the same method. When you edit a book, you can remove anything that’s unnecessary and adds nothing to the plot.

10. Check Your Grammar!

It goes without saying, but in this self-publishing boom, grammar doesn’t always get thoroughly checked. Before you publish your book, make sure all your grammar is in order. 

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