There is so much involved in self-editing; the lists and checkpoints can
fill a book. But, in this article we’ll look at how to do a final once over.
These are steps to take after you’ve proofread and self-edited the
manuscript and had it critiqued, checked for grammar, storyline,
punctuation, showing, etc.
1. Read your manuscript
Read it again. Try to read it slow and watch for all the self-editing tips
you’ve learned and think you’ve applied. Spotting one’s one errors is
difficult since we know what we wrote and intended. Some of the other
tips here will help with this problem.
2. Change the font and read it again
Surprisingly, you will spot errors you just glazed over before. You won’t
run through it the same way you did with the original font.
3. Read each paragraph from the last sentence to the first
This is an interesting method for an additional self-edit. It’s helpful
because your brain won’t be on auto-pilot. You will spot glitches within
sentences that you would glaze over when reading normally.
Note: I don’t mean reading each sentence backward; read each sentence
as you would normally, but read the last sentence first and work your way
to the beginning of the paragraph.
4. Print your manuscript
Okay, I know what you environmentalists are thinking . . . I’m one also. I
try very hard not to waste paper and protect our trees. But, there is a
difference between reading on a computer and reading paper copy. I’ll be
honest, I don’t know why our brain perceives it differently, it just does.
As you’re reading your manuscript, use a colored pen or pencil and mark
the text you find errors in. Once you’re finished go back to your computer
document and correct the errors.
The other practical aspect of this process is it’s a good idea to have a hard
copy of your manuscript near its final stage. Unless you have an offsite
backup, you can’t be too careful (I’d be skeptical of this also you
never know with any online system). I’ve lost a number of files when my
computer broke. And, I’ve even lost files on zip drives when the drives
failed. So, from experience I’m cautious when it comes to saving my
5. Go Green
Another step to take, if you print this copy of the manuscript, is to recycle
it. I reuse paper I print by using the back for notes; when it can be
discarded, I recycle! You can either rip it into pieces or shred it so your
valuable content isn’t usable to others.
Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and freelance writer. For writing
and marketing information visit KarenCioffi.com,
(http://karencioffi.com) and sign up for her free newsletter: A Writer’s
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