So, you made it to the hand editing stage.
Welcome to hell, children, I’ll be your guide!
Print off that pretty manuscript of yours and get ready for a trip into the depths of your own work that will leave you with nothing but weariness. You’re going to hate your story when you’re done, but that’s ok; other people will love it for you. Get your red editing pen out and get ready to dive in deep. This is the stage when you really start to polish the style of your story; when you weed out the micro imperfections that make your manuscript good rather than great. Once you’ve done this you move on to the oral edit which mainly helps with flow, dialogue, and style. Together these make the final editing stage.
The following checklist will help you to finalise your manuscript, but also get your document in the right shape to be seen by agents and publishers;
Final Edits Checklist;
- Identify and cut your crutch words. Scrivener has a frequency function which can help you to do this.
- Weed out excessive punctuation. As a wise man once said; “an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
- Check for trouble words like: a lot/alot, affect/effect, can/may, further/farther, good/well, lay/lie, less/fewer, that/who, their/they’re/there, then/than, who/whom, your/you’re. Use the right word in the right context.
- Omit needless words and sentences.
- Check speech tags; said should be your main, though other forms, like adverbs, can be effective in small doses.
- Correct any stilted dialogue.
- Remove unnecessary dialogue and info dumps.
- Ensure your document is typed in 12 point Times New Roman.
- Remove double spaces after periods.
- Use double spacing.
- Make sure that your indenting is consistent.
- Ensure that your numbers are consistent (both page numbers and in text. If you write numbers out keep doing so, if you use numbers keep doing so. Its generally better to write figures than use numbers in fiction).
- Use page breaks between chapters
- Once more check for consistency in style, tense, and POV.
Once you’ve done this and made the appropriate changes to your word document, you’re ready to begin querying! Congratulations; you’re officially the proud author of a finished book!