As I am working through the editing/revision process of my memoir, I'm learning new ways of improving my process from my personal experience, feedback from my critique group, and suggestions from professional editors. Although I am still figuring out my process as I go, here are some tips that have helped me:
Fresh eyes. I mention this in my previous blog, but looking at your work with fresh eyes is extremely important in the editing/revision process because of how tedious this part of the process can be. Make sure you take regular breaks and step away from your computer to keep yourself from getting bogged down in the details. It’s easier to catch mistakes and get new ideas with fresh eyes.
Read out loud. I’ve heard this advice from several people, including professional editors. If you are like me, you tend to overwrite at times. I took this advice to heart and began reading my work out loud. It helped me simplify sentence structures and give my writing a more conversational (less formal) tone.
Revision first. After I shared my previous blog “Editing and Revision Process” on a Facebook group, one of you mentioned in the comments how important it is to distinguish between the major revision process and the editing process. Always do your major revisions first. It can be a huge waste of time if I start editing and then realize I need to cut out big chunks or add in new chunks to my essay. I always go through and address the essays that need major revisions before I get into line editing.
Critique Groups. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs but having a critique group is priceless! Show your work to people you trust such as critique/writing group members to get new eyes on it. You can find critique groups online. If you live in the Atlanta area, you can find critique groups based on your genre through the Atlanta Writers Club. If you lack access to a group, find a friend or two that you trust who will give you helpful constructive feedback.
Beta Readers. As one of you mentioned in the comments of my previous blog, beta readers are very helpful. Gather a few people that are willing to read your work and give you feedback. If you are having a hard time finding people in your network, Facebook writing groups are a good place to put out a call for beta readers.
Get a professional editor (if possible). It can be expensive to get a professional freelance editor, however, if you can afford it, it is a worthwhile investment. This way, you will know exactly what to revise or edit before you even pitch your manuscript to an agent. You can go to websites like www.thewritershigh.com to find great freelance editors online.
Use feedback wisely. I have had the opportunity to get many eyes on parts of my manuscript. I have received feedback from my professors, critique group members, classmates, a professional editor, and my husband. That’s a lot of feedback! Although these are all people whose opinion I value and whose feedback I trust, this is my memoir. At the end of the day, I need to have the discretion to know what feedback to incorporate and what to ignore. Sometimes people might give you feedback that will take your work in a different (not necessarily bad) direction. It is up to you to decide where you want your final product to go. I talk more about how to make the best of your feedback and develop critiquing skills (giving and receiving critiques) in my blog “Developing Critiquing Skills.”
Read about it. When it comes to line editing and improving grammar skills there are many great books out there. One book that was recommended to me by a professional editor was Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Although the book is for fiction writers, it works well for memoir as well. It includes exercises and funny cartoons that help you improve your editing skills.
As always, I am humbled and encouraged by all of you who take time to read my blogs and share your advice/experiences with me. You all keep me motivated!
Please continue to share your advice/experiences regarding the revision/editing process with me in the comments.
Next Wednesday’s blog will be about the process of submitting a manuscript.
Happy Writing! :)
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