Yep. Hard to believe, but it's true. When I first set out to edit my WIP after letting it stew for about 3 months, I didn't know how to get started. I read the whole thing in one sitting, just to get a feel for the flow, and catch blatant inconsistencies (like names that got changed halfway through the writing process. The farmer's wife couldn't be both Susan and Lori at the same time, see.) But beyond that, I was lost. I had my colored markers ready, the printout nicely organized in my binder, and...I was watching Doomsday Preppers on TV instead of making my manuscript colorful with the highlighters. My Editor Mode was on "lazy". Or maybe it was pointing to the "I-have-no-clue-what-to-do" switch.
Thank heavens for my crit partner, who offered to take a look at it despite its embarrassing state. And while I cringed and did a lot of headslapping after getting her feedback (sheesh, how come I didn't see that?? Bless her heart for slogging through the errors. Thanks, A.M.! Love ya, sis!), I was VERY grateful. Because then I had something to focus on.
Lest you fall into the same pit I was in, I'm giving you easy tips to get you started with your editing. It may not seem like a lot right now, or even a big deal, but once your editing mode gets jumpstarted, you will like--and hopefully, LOVE--editing your work. Because first drafts are just that--drafts. But a finished, highly polished manuscript will set your heart thumping at the realization that YOU DID IT. You finished something, and it is BEAUTIFUL.
So, here we go:
1. Go to FIND (in MS Word) and jot down "JUST". Look at all the highlighted justs in your ms, and DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.
2. Do the same thing for "THAT".
3. And "LIKE".
4. And maybe even "ACTUALLY".
5. Word of caution: Do not slash blindly. Take care to look at each one, and decide if they are necessary in your sentence. If not, employ the DELETE button.
6. Wipe your brow. Grab a drink. Pop a Hershey's Kiss in your mouth--for an extra boost of
7. Now, use the FIND feature again, and input "SEE". If you're writing in 1st person, you'll soon see how much your character is seeing everything. Not needed. Just show us what he/she sees, without actually using "see". Confused much? Don't be.
8. Do the same for "FEEL".
9. Again, don't slash blindly.
10. Pat yourself in the back. You're off to a good start.
For more awesome editing tips, check out the following links: (They are uber helpful, I promise. And much more eloquent than my own ramblings.)
Allen Guthrie's Infamous Writing Tips
Robb Grindstaff--Book Editor: Never Use an Adverb!
Tips for Editing Your NaNoWriMo Novel (Lifehacker.com) --> Even if it's not a NaNoWriMo novel, these are still great tips!
Peggy Eddleman: How Do You Know When Your Manuscript is Done?