Recently, a friend asked me to take a look at her short story and see what I thought. It was a great story, but there were a few common mistakes that new writers make, such as a lot of unnecessary words. I ended up helping her to edit it and, a week or so later, she told me that it had been accepted for publication. Naturally, this has gone to my head a bit and I now consider myself a short story editing expert!
Seriously though, my friend asked me to help her learn how to edit her own work so she didn’t always have to call upon my services. Below is the summary of my method that I sent her. I thought it might be of use to some of you guys too!
- Try and see the story through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it before. Does it make sense? Will they understand what the story’s about? Does it fit together cohesively?
- Go through it looking for unnecessary words and phrases. Take them out. Now repeat step one.
- Look for repeated words that are close together. Replace.
- Read it out loud. Change any sentences that sound unnatural, clunky, or are difficult to say.
By the way, this guide assumes you have already been through to check your spelling and grammar. You don’t need me to tell you you need to do that! At least, I hope you don’t.
Is there anything else you would add to this list?