Congratulations! Now you have the first draft of your manuscript. What next?
Every writer needs to self-edit their work before submitting to an editor. Whatever the format of writing. It is the writer’s duty to make sure their story is working. Most times when the word editing is mentioned, a lot of writers assume typos and grammatical errors, but even before you get to that, you need to make sure the story is working.
There are also different types of editors, there’s a copy editor or proof reader who deals with the grammar of your work, from the typos to grammatical sentences, to comas and so forth.
There’s a structural editor who deals with your story structure; is it flowing from beginning- middle- end, are stakes raised, do we have suspense and so forth.
There’s also a story editor or developmental editor who delves deeper into your story and characters to help your story and characters become the best they can be.
There’s a line editor and so forth.
As a writer you need to figure out what kind of editor your story needs, so that you can do the best for your work and grow as a writer.
So enough about the external editors, today I’d like to equip you with some self-editing tips from knowledge gathered over the years as both a script editor and a writer, read below to help your story become the best it can be.
- Check the pacing of your story. Does the second act lag? Have you given your audience a satisfactory beginning, middle and end with a great balanced pace? Is your story moving at just the right pace? Not too fast to lose the reader to confusion, not too slow to lose the reader to boredom? Pacing is key.
- Does your inciting incident come early enough? Ensure you’ve not over stretched the set-up of your story that it starts to drag and your reader gets bored waiting for the story to start. (Read more on the inciting incident in one of my blog posts on my website www.damarisirunguo.com
- Is the why of your character clear? Why is your character doing what s/he is doing? Have you motivated them enough? Is your Protagonist also actively moving towards their goal or are they passive about every challenge thrown their way?
- Your antagonist or Antagonistic force. How layered are they? Are they a cliché antagonist or you’ve pushed the boundaries with the antagonist in this story?
- Have you fulfilled the promise you made to your audience at the start of the script/story? Did you make them a promise in the first place? If not go back, make them a promise in your first act, the promise gets fulfilled in act 3.
- Check for consistency in the story, from your character ages, characters background and anything about the character that might have changed as you wrote. Make sure the time span in your story also makes sense. Re-read your work looking out for the time span the story takes place and tighten any weakness. Make sure the beginning to end is consistent.
- Make sure the formatting is correct. Check the grammar and check for any spelling mistakes. Also make sure your English is uniform across the script, if you choose to use American English and spell color without the U, then you can’t spell flavour with the U because that’s British. Improve your chances of not annoying those who’ll be reading your work by being consistent in your language. (I know, it’s a burden but we have to do what we have to do)
I hope these tips inspire you to get on with your editing, make your manuscript the best it can be!