Editing is a tedious process for me. I complain about it more than I should, I’m sure. I apologize if I sound like a whiner. But there is one editing tool that I couldn’t live without.
Reading aloud. When I feel my story is fit for human consumption, I read it out loud to my children. I watch for reactions; laughs, furrowing brows, wandering attention. Sometimes I stop at certain points and ask what is going on in the story to see if they’ve picked up on a subtle story line. Or I ask what they think will happen next to see if the plot is too predictable. I offer as little information as possible (extremely hard for me, might I add!) Based on any comments they offer, questions they ask, or when I lost their attention, I go back to the editing process and tweak and tuck and cut and boost.
Then I read it out loud again, but this time I record myself. I plug a microphone into my computer and record an audio file (or several if it is a novel.) I attempt to read in different character voices with emphasis and verve. I try NOT to edit or to even really think about the story beyond the reading process, because a few days later I listen to it. Ideally, it would be fabulous if I had some crazy friend willing to sit in front of my computer for hours on end and read into a microphone, but I haven’t found that selfless being yet, so I’m the next best option.
Can I just tell you how much you catch LISTENING to your story! I don’t read along in my manuscript while I’m playing the audio, because then I stop really listening. When I hear an awkward phrase or out of character dialogue, I pause the recording and find the place in the manuscript to mark for future editing. Then I continue LISTENING.
What’s your best editing tip?