PUBLISHED: Editing Secrets to Make your Story SENSATIONAL!

cover-march-magazine Happy International Women’s Day!

SQUEE … My EDITING article was published in a print magazine!

Astute editing transforms a great story into something sensational!

Editing polishes your writing until it sparkles and shines with the gloss of a professional. A polished piece of writing hooks a reader from the beginning, holding them to the last word.

Wendy Johnson of South City Bulletin requested I write an article about the three levels of editing … structural, line and word. I  explained an easy to follow recipe … Always start with the BIG picture of your story with a structural edit. Then work your way down to line editing and finally word editing.

Structural Editing

Take a close examination of the overall structure of your story and answer these questions…
1.    Does the story flow and make sense? Is it believable?

2.    First sentence … Is your first sentence powerful, hooking the reader in?

3.    First paragraph … Does your first paragraph anchor and orientate the Reader to the setting, the main character and the problem, hooking us even more

4.    First Page … Does the first page set up the story and the conflict? Do we care about the main character?
5.    Overall story arc … Does the story build up to a climax?

6.    Ending … Is the ending satisfying to the reader? Are all the questions resolved?

7.    Are the story events sequenced logically?

8.    What is missing from the story?

Line Editing

  • Eliminate unnecessary modifiers which weaken your sentence i.e. possibly, simply, really, totally, very, supposedly, seriously, terribly, allegedly, utterly, sort of, kind of, usually, extremely, almost, mostly, practically, probably, and quite.
  • Search for extraneous thats and hads. Either delete or rephrase the sentence.
  • Eliminate all clichés.E Replace with powerful prose or invent original metaphors and similes.  Rewrite, rephrase, reconfigure. The more times you rewrite your sentences, the sharper they’ll become.

Word Editing

  • Replace boring verbs i.e. get, give, sat, say, see, stood, use, want, walk with words and phrases that have energy
  • Swap lazy adjectives with better word picture and metaphors. E.g. easy, nice, interesting, wonderful, big, fine, bad, exciting, good, little, strange.
  • Delete adverbs ending in ly unless they change the way the verb behaves e.g. whispered loudly = OK but whispered softy = no-no.
  • Remove all unnecessary or overused words e.g. that, very, just, because, then etc. Plus check out unnecessary modifiers above in line editing.

Top #2 Books on Editing

1.    Little Red Writing Book by Mark Tredinnick
2.    The Elements of Style by Strunk & White

South City Bulletin print magazine published these editing techniques & MORE.  Click here to read the FULL article…

Hope these easy-to-follow steps offer your writing that extra boost.
Good luck with your story 🙂

Were these editing tips helpful?

What editing strategies work for you?

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24 comments to PUBLISHED: Editing Secrets to Make your Story SENSATIONAL!

  • Well done on getting your article published Karen.

    I subscribe to the Stephen King philosophy of writing, in a general way.. no adverbs at all.. whispered loudly, whispered softly.. what’s wrong with plain whispered? Delete unnecessary words, no matter what they are..

    Also a big believer in editing, over and over.

  • Thanks Anthony, for dropping by. Yes I’m thrilled to get this article published. I totally agree with you about editing over and over! And then some!

  • The generousity that we all have come to expect from you Karen. Just a little question about ‘whispered’ and no adverbs at all. Do you think that there are times we need to slip in the odd adverb to set the scene? ‘He whispered loudly so those close to him could hear.’
    Thanks again
    xxx Dawn Alice

  • Congratulations, Karen. You must be thrilled. And you should be – a good, concise over-view of editing. Well done.

  • Thanks Kaz,
    Yes I had to make it concise firstly for the magazine … less than 600 words and also I like my Blogs short and sweet.
    The reality is editing is a long thorough process that really needs a volume to explain.

  • Thanks Dawn for your very kinds words of support. Yes, I like to slip an adverb here and there for effect and to draw attention to something.
    But I generally make adverbs minimal.

  • Very good advice! 🙂

    I’ve got a professional helping me edit one of my manuscripts and it’s amazing how much needs changing after you think you got it right. Hard work, but worth it for a good end product.

    Wagging Tales

  • Thanks Charmaine. Glad you found the tips helpful.
    All my manuscripts were professionally edited after I edited them first. ( Keeps the costs down. The more editing you do, cheaper the quote is.)
    Good luck with your professional edits.

  • Excellent Karen – says it all. Better to be precise and concise in 600 words than to waffle meaninglessly on. But I am still pondering over Dawn Alice’s loud whispering. Isn’t that a shout? A whisper, by definition, surely cannot be loud. Maybe: “He raised his voice above the whisper he’d been using to make sure the others heard.”

  • Hi Tony, fabulous to see you over here again. Like your rendition of the the loud whispering. So many different ways to express for authors to express “the words”, isn’t there?

  • Michelle

    Yay for getting the article in print.
    You have condensed and simplified for all… Well done. Xx

  • Thanks Michelle for your congrats and for liking my editing tips. Hope they’ll be helpful for you 🙂

  • Steph L

    sounds like editing is more labour intensive than writing the book in the first place

  • Kudos to you once again Karen. Brilliant work. Your tips and tricks never fail to expand my tool box. Thank you so very much. (I know I could have avoided the use of ‘very’ but I just can’t help myself at times!)

  • Thanks Dimity, I’m thrilled you like my Editing tricks. Go ahead with using the Very word … dare to be controversial. LOL.

  • Yes Stephanie, Editing changes an ordinary story into something extraordinary … the time and effort are ALL worth it.

  • Graham Clements

    A concise and useful article. Good to have you back from overseas, I missed your chatter on facebook.

  • Hi Graham,
    Thrilled you thoughts my Editing Tricks useful. Thanks for saying you missed my Facebook Chatter. Nice to be missed 🙂

  • Great tips, as long as not followed to the heights of ridiculousity. (Some people make such heroic efforts to avoid words such as “said” that their work becomes a cacophany.)

  • Thanks Sally, I appreciate that comment coming from you, a professional editor!

  • As an ex manuscript assessor you have highlighted many of the problems I used to encounter in mss,Karen

  • Hi Dale, That’s good to hear! Glad I’ve addressed the most common problems in manuscript writing.

  • Thanks so much Ang for the pingback and supporting me and Blue Dingo writers.

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