Editing, Writing

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?