How to Trick Your Editor’s Eye

I’m not officially editing my next novel because I haven’t finished writing it, but I do some editing as I write. While I’m waiting for the next scenes to come to me, I go back and read parts I’ve already written, changing bits here and there.

When it’s time to edit the completed work, I use a few tricks to help my editor’s eye read as though I haven’t been staring at all those words for months. I print it, read the story aloud, and send it to my Kindle. That helps me see, and hear, typos, grammar, and punctuation errors, as well as discover the words and sentences I need to move, add, or delete.

Recently, I’ve been editing some short stories, and I created a .pdf of each to share with some critique partners. Yesterday, I sent them something I don’t normally share—a partial first draft. I gave them the first 6,000 words of my WIP as a .pdf, not for them to critique, but for them to give their opinion on the tense I used.

I didn’t take time to read the file at the time, so when I did that yesterday morning, I saw immediately that I’d misspelled a name. I also flagged a few places where my hair-trigger comma gun misfired, a couple of things that needed clarification, a few weak word choices, and a sentence or two I’ll move for better flow and stronger narrative.

Now, I know that reading my work in .pdf format helps me read with fresh eyes. I suppose it’s akin to reading it on my Kindle, but it’s much easier to click Save As in Word and, within a minute, be reading it in Adobe Reader. When this book is fully written and ready for editing, I’ll employ my usual methods, but for a quick peruse of a chapter or two, I’ll be using the .pdf method as another way to trick my editor’s eye.

Your turn: What tricks do you use to make your manuscript look fresh to your eye for editing?

22 thoughts on “How to Trick Your Editor’s Eye

  1. I like to read my manucripts in multiple forms as well. It really helps notice different issues. I actually have a critique partner who will print her manuscript in a different font from what she typed it in just to see what stands out. I haven’t tried that route yet. I do use my Kindle, print, and read aloud, though. Just when you think you have all the typos and mistakes fixed, there’s another one. 🙂

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  2. I find printing the story out helps a lot. There’s a difference between reading on a screen vs reading a printed page. Also reading aloud is good for finding those places where the words don’t flow as smoothly as I’d like them. Even then it seems impossible to catch all the typos. Taking a break and letting the story sit often helps me find those, but to be trithful I find it difficult to let it sit for very long.. Guess I have to work at that… 🙂

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    1. I agree, Laura. I think the problem with typos is that we know what we meant to write, so our brain corrects them for us.

      And waiting … I remember the first time I saw the suggestion to set aside a work for at least six months. I couldn’t believe anyone actually did that. Now, I might see the wisdom in that for the final polish, but if I set a first draft aside for any length of time, I’m not sure I could get into that story’s frame of mind again.

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  3. Thanks for the tip. i will have to try it. I find printing it out really helps as well and reading it in another room. (Weird, I know but it seems to help)

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    1. Darlene, I presumed you meant room, not oom, so I changed that in your comment. However, if oom is what you meant, please share what an oom is, so I can try it. 😀 However, I do think moving to a different place to edit is a good idea.

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  4. Great idea with turning it into a .pdf, I’m going to have to try this!

    I’m like you I edit as I write which has gotten me in trouble. If I go over a chapter that I don’t think worked then I fall into a depression & have a hard time moving the story forward vs going back and attempting to rewrite/rework the chapter. I’m trying to just write & finish my 1st draft before going back & so far it has helped me speed up my writing.

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    1. I could use some speeding up, Taurean, but whether you spend the time rewriting it in the first run or editing it afterwards, it probably equals out. Though from my post today, it’s obvious that I’m writing a little differently than I have before, so we’ll see how that works out.

      BTW, your last post has made me book trailer envious. 🙂

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  5. I take about a month off after I’ve completed my MS, print it out and hole up somewhere to try to read the entire thing in one sitting (one very long sitting). This way I stay in the story and catch continuity errors and parts that are weaker than others. Of course, it takes a few times of doing this before I think it’s ready for anyone to see it (I do re-use paper, but there are some trees harmed in this exercise). Hope this helps!

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