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Self-editing is an important piece of the writing process. It is the last piece of the writing process and is usually done before a final draft manuscript is sent to an editor or agent. Many writers do not enjoy self-editing and find it to be a tedious task. Some writers might compare self-editing to a household chore nobody ever wants to do that has to be done.
Self-editing doesn’t have to be difficult. Every writer will have his/her own techniques for self-editing. However you choose to self-edit, find a system that works the best for you. Take breaks whenever you need to. Print your manuscript and edit on paper if that works better than editing on a computer screen. Use the “find” feature of Microsoft Word and other word processing programs to help you look for particular words.
Many writers will read books or websites with self-editing tips and guides. Use these websites and books as references when self-editing or to make reminder lists of things you want to watch for in your writing.
Here are five self-editing tips to help you get started.
1. Eliminate repetitious words/phrases including “pet” or favorite words/phrases.
A “pet” or favorite word/phrase is a word/phrase that a writer uses frequently in writing. This word/phrase may be something a writer often uses when speaking. The writer may use the word/phrase in speaking often enough that the writer doesn’t realize the word/phrase has crossed over into his/her writing.
2. Eliminate unnecessary modifiers.
Unnecessary modifiers are words that lessen impact or emphasize for no reason.
Some common unnecessary modifiers are: really, very, sort of, simply, extremely, kind of, quite, mostly, usually, so, terribly, seriously, practically, and probably.
3. Eliminate clichés.
A cliché is a phrase so common, a reader speeds right past it. A cliché can lose the effect you were trying to achieve.
4. Eliminate extraneous (and often unnecessary) “thats” and “hads.”
5. Eliminate redundant words/phrases.
- revert back = revert
- return back = return
- thought to herself = thought
- merged together = merged