Seamless Self-Editing—Part I

scenebookYou hear it more and more these days. Your manuscript must be “publish-ready” in order for it to be considered. Click to Tweet What does “publish-ready” mean? #amwriting #publish-ready #self-editing

For the next few blog posts, we’ll look at this and how you can improve your raw writing into something closer to “publish-ready.” I’ll be using several resources for this. Today’s resource is The Scene Book, by Sandra Scofield.

First, let’s take a look at what it means.

When you think of “publish-ready,” think about these starter questions:

1) You’ve self-edited it—numerous times

2) You’ve secured professional free-lance editors to aid you in revising your work, and

3) The publisher has little or no editing to do in order for them to publish it.

Let’s look at each of these individually.


Once you’ve drafted your story, go back and read through it. Make notes on scenes that don’t work, dialogue that doesn’t sparkle, and characters whose role should either be expanded or diminished.

fountain penAsk yourself if this story is worth telling? Actually, that question should be asked before you write it down. I have another post on that. Check out What Makes a Story Great?

Scenes: Does the scene advance the story? Does it have necessary conflict? Does it have an event? A pulse? A structure? What about function? To help you answer these questions, a great resource is The Scene Book, by Sandra Scofield.

Dialogue: Does is sizzle and shine? If not, why not? Cut extraneous words without making it appear choppy. In writing dialogue, give each character a “voice,” a distinctive way of speaking. In my novel, my cowboy usually started his sentences with verbs, leaving off the subjects until he got to know my heroine better.

Characters: what’s their backstory? You have to know it, but don’t dump it, feed it piecemeal, a little at a time. What’s their distinguishing characteristic? Do you like them? If they’re the villain, do they have one redeeming quality about them to make them human?

This is just a beginning, scratching the surface for an overall look at your story.

The first step to seamless self-editing is to take a step back and look at your story objectively. Click to Tweet #amwriting #self-editing #publish-ready

What about you? What have you found helpful in your self-editing? Leave a comment and let me know.

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