First of all, before we start getting into the nitty gritty, let me explain the different levels of edits so we're all on the same page.
This is my specialty. You might hear it called a developmental edit, or a substantive edit, but what it means is this is an editor who evaluates your story for plot, character development, narrative flow, story arc, and basic story structure.
In a nutshell, a copy editor helps you make your words say what you mean and mean what you say. They'll also check for inconsistencies, grammar, and sentence structure. This generally comes after the content edit.
A proofreader checks for typos and punctuation errors, combing through each and every crack and crevice to make sure all is correct. This is typically the last stage.
These are three distinct skill sets, although there is some overlap, and ideally, your manuscript will go through each stage.
What I cover here is what goes into a content edit.
Now on to your first step...
The first step is so simple, and yet it's bypassed by many writers.
Put your manuscript away and ignore it for at least two weeks.
That's right. Put it right there in the trunk, throw a lock on it, and pretend it's not there.
Go on. Now, start writing something else. Pay no attention to the thumps, screams, or moans now emitting from the trunk. They will stop--eventually. Hide the folder on your desktop, while you're at it. You don't need to be distracted right now. You're working on your next story.
"So, what's the deal, Netta?" you ask. "I can't wait! I have to get this story out there to my adoring fans!"
You can wait two weeks. Actually, I'd prefer a month but I know how you writer-types are. Patience, dear ones. And I'll tell you why.
Remember when I said you aren't going to see all the flaws in your work? This is the truth. You'll never see all of them, but when you give yourself some distance from the story, you'll be amazed at what you do see when you pick it up again. Not just errors or wandering off-target, but all the good stuff, too.
You'll come back to the story with fresh and sharp eyes, and a renewed enthusiasm for what you've produced. This is when you're ready to move on to Step Two.
Of course I know you've ignored this piece of advice. Don't make me sic Slaughter Cat on you.
Questions? Leave a comment in the comment section and I'll answer!
Slaughter Cat says: Put the 'script in the trunk or it gets the hose again.
Copyright © 2015 by Annetta Ribken
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