Conquer Your Edits.

One of my favorite lines in the movie Finding Forrester, which often gets overlooked, is: “First you write from the heart. Then you write from your head.” This beautifully sums up the editing process. As the great Stephen King said, “Writing is rewriting and rewriting and… rewriting.”

In the last six months, I’ve been rewriting my TV Pilot Crime Cleaners to the point where my eyes were bleeding, and I felt like screaming. When I reached the breaking point, I realized I had made nearly every possible mistake in editing and rewriting.

To save you from the same headaches, I’ve compiled these ten editing mistakes to avoid.

10 Mistakes to Slash From Your Manuscript.

#1 – The Rushing Rush.

Mistake: You’re excited to get your masterpiece out there, so you rush through the editing process, missing important details and subtle errors.

Tip: Hold your horses! Editing with a clear head is key. Take a break before diving into edits. Distance makes the difference; stepping away lets you see the bigger picture. Fresh eyes catch more, and taking a breather helps avoid tunnel vision.

Editing with a fresh perspective can transform your work. After working intensely on a manuscript, taking a step back allows you to return with new insight and a critical eye, essential for catching plot holes, pacing issues, and inconsistencies.

#2 – Grammar Gremlins vs. Story Strength.

Mistake: Focusing solely on catching typos and stray commas while ignoring the overall story’s strength.

Tip: Balancing grammar with story is essential. Yes, catching those pesky grammar gremlins is crucial for a polished piece, but don’t get bogged down. Focus on clarity and flow, pacing, character development, and emotional connection to transform your story from good to great.

Grammar is the foundation, but storytelling is the structure that captivates. Ensure your narrative flows smoothly, your characters are well-developed, and the emotional impact is strong. This balance will make your story compelling and immersive.

#3 – Darling Dearest Words.

Mistake: Holding onto sentences you adore, even if they bog down the pace.

Tip: Sometimes, less is more. Conciseness is king (or queen). Show, don’t tell; use active voice over passive voice. Strength in simplicity ensures your story remains clear and impactful.

Saying goodbye to beloved sentences can be tough, but a tight, concise narrative enhances readability and engagement. Prioritize clarity and directness, making each word count and keeping the reader hooked.

#4 – Pacing Panic.

Mistake: Struggling with story rhythm, leaving readers either bored or breathless.

Tip: Balance is everything. Avoid the slow burn slump and the breathless blitz. Vary sentence lengths, strategically place chapter cliffhangers, and show, don’t tell, to keep readers glued to the page.

Pacing is the heartbeat of your story. Ensure a dynamic rhythm by mixing action and reflection, using varied sentence structures, and placing cliffhangers thoughtfully to maintain tension and interest.

#5 – Character Catastrophe.

Mistake: Creating cardboard cutout characters that don’t feel real or relatable.

Tip: Dive deep into your characters’ motivations, quirks, and backstories. Show, their traits through actions and dialogue. Ensure consistency and allow characters to grow and change throughout the story.

Characters are the soul of your story. Develop them with depth and authenticity, showing their personalities through interactions and growth.

Remember – characters are what they are DOING! Consistent, well-rounded characters make your narrative believable and engaging.

#6 – Cliché Cacophony.

Mistake: Overusing clichés, which can make your writing feel bland and outdated.

Tip: Originality wins. Ban clichés and embrace fresh language. Sensitivity readers can help identify and suggest inclusive language. Use active voice to make your writing more engaging.

Clichés can dilute your unique voice. Strive for originality, avoiding tired phrases, and opting for fresh, evocative language. Sensitivity readers can also help ensure your writing is respectful and inclusive.

#7 – World-Building Wobbles.

Mistake: Inconsistent or unbelievable details in your created world, especially in fantasy or sci-fi.

Tip: Ensure internal logic and consistency. Use maps for visual aid, weave world-building details into the narrative, and maintain cultural cohesion. Define how technology interacts with magic if applicable.

A cohesive, believable world enriches your story. Consistency in your world-building details, logical rules, and cultural elements will make your setting feel real and immersive.

#8 – POV Popping.

Mistake: Head-hopping, or jumping between character perspectives, which can confuse readers.

Tip: Stick to one POV to enhance reader engagement, emotional impact, and clarity. Choose the best POV to build suspense and maintain a clear narrative.

A consistent POV keeps readers grounded in your story. Choose the most effective perspective to convey emotions, build suspense, and maintain clarity, ensuring a smooth, engaging reading experience.

#9 – Dialogue Disaster.

Mistake: Writing clunky, unnatural dialogue that doesn’t reveal character personalities.

Tip: Make dialogue a window into characters’ souls. Show, don’t tell, use real speech patterns, and incorporate subtext. Complement dialogue with body language and actions for richer interactions.

Dialogue should reflect real speech, revealing character traits and advancing the plot. Use natural rhythms, subtext, and actions to create believable, engaging conversations.

#10 – The Solo Showstopper.

Mistake: Relying solely on self-editing without seeking outside feedback.

Tip: Embrace fresh perspectives. Beta readers and editors catch hidden errors, strengthen your story, and provide valuable feedback. They can also help build your confidence and connect you with a community of passionate storytellers.

Collaborating with beta readers and editors brings fresh eyes and valuable insights to your work. They can catch mistakes you might miss, offer constructive feedback, and help you refine your story, enhancing its overall quality.

In ConclusionBy addressing these common editing mistakes, you can transform your manuscript into a polished, engaging piece of writing. Remember, editing is not just about correcting errors; it’s about refining and enhancing your story to create a lasting impact on your readers.

Happy editing!

Now it’s YOUR turn – what’s your biggest editing pet peeve? Typos? Clichés? Share your editing woes in the comments!

Would love to get your input in the comment box below.

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