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Editing: Tips and Tricks from a Published Author By Sarah Anne Carter

I don’t enjoy editing my own work. I don’t mind editing anyone else’s work, but when it comes to my own, it doesn’t excite me at all.

Editing is necessary, though, because I love writing. I love getting a story onto the page. I love figuring out characters and timelines. I enjoy seeing my word count inch higher and higher. I love the satisfaction of getting to the end of the story. Then The story needs to be edited.

Unfortunately, I never write a clean, superb story on the first try. No one does. It’s not my favorite step. It doesn’t seem to have as much fun or glory attached to it. It’s work that says your first work wasn’t good enough. It involves critiquing, deleting and moving things around.

However, knowing that it’s a critical step in having a finished book that can be published and that people can read, I’ve been intentionally focusing on changing my mindset about editing. I’m trying to like it more. Let me share some tips I’ve tried to make editing more fun.

Sit on your story for a bit.

When I finish the first draft of a novel, I take a break from it before I do anything else with it. I usually do some other kind of writing (like working on my memoir) or spend some time brainstorming and writing short stories or blog posts. I once started another novel, but then it was months before I came back to the first book I had written and that was too long of a break.

Print out your first draft.

I send off my draft to an office supply store to have it printed out and bound. It only costs about $20 and then I forever have a copy of the first draft. I like to read it on paper for the first edit to see how the story flows and so I can make notes as I go along. I take my time at this stage, marking up my first draft. I often go out for coffee or lunch and spend time out of the house and away from a computer to do this editing.

Take another break.

I take another week or two break before I start editing the book on the computer. It gives me a fresher set of eyes and I see more things to edit than just what I marked up on paper. During that break, I sometimes read a book on writing or editing and just do some fun writing.

Make some editing goals.

Just as it’s fun to watch a word count tick up, it’s fun to check off the progress in the editing stage. I make a chart of either chapters or pages that need to be edited and then check them off as I finish each section. You can do it by time spent editing, too. Estimate how long you might spend and make a chart where you can check off every 30 minutes. Or, you can even just have a daily goal of 30 minutes a day spent editing and make a chart for that.

Reward yourself when the job is done.

Editing is hard work, and you should be rewarded when you complete the first round of edits (especially if it’s not your favorite thing to do). It can be a simple as making your favorite meal for dinner, making a small dessert to celebrate or buying that sugar scrub you’ve been eyeing. You can make it big by inviting people over to celebrate. I often reward myself with a lunch out and a small shopping trip. If you choose your reward at the start of the editing process, you’ll have that to look forward to the entire time.

Take one more break

After a good round of editing, it might be ready to pitch to an agent or you might want to go through these steps all over again before letting someone put eyes on it. I would recommend taking a break for a week or two and then reading through it one more time before deciding how ready the manuscript is for other people to read.

I just finished editing the first draft of my fourth novel. It went the smoothest of all the books I’ve edited so far. I’ll pick it up again in a week to read through it and see what my next step will be with the book. I do feel it might need another round of editing before I pitch it to any agents. I’m rewarding myself with a massage next week.

Do you enjoy editing or hate it? What tips do you have for the editing process? Share your thoughts in the comments.


about the author

Sarah Anne Carter is the author of The Ring, Life After and Orphan Wish Island. She’s lived all over the world as a military child and spouse, but has settled in Ohio with her family. She spends her time enjoying her family, homeschooling, gardening, reading and writing. She is a lover of travel and cats.

Find more about her and her books at or follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @bysarahannecarter.


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