The Process of Editing


Tomorrow’s blog post is going to be amazing. Just trust me on this. You’ll want to be here for it. 

Of course, today’s is awesome, too. *wink wink*

I’ve been whining about editing a lot… but then I realized I’ve never mentioned how I actually edit…? For some people, a good, thorough edit might be a new concept, so in this video I describe how I do it.

The basic premise of being a good editor is knowing the English language (or whatever language you’re writing in, I suppose). It can get pretty intricate. Look for these things:


  1. Spelling and grammar, obviously. And sometimes, your spell check fails you. You might have used an ACTUAL word that still isn’t the word you wanted to use. Watch out for that autocorrect, too. Mine keeps wanting to change Myen’s name to ‘men.’ THAT’S not right!
  2. Using the same word too close together. Maybe you’ve grown really fond of the word ‘demanded,’ and suddenly Heike’s ‘demanding’ this and ‘demanding’ that. Or maybe that’s just me.
  3. Too many commas! Or, not enough commas.
  4. Run on sentences. I don’t know why I see so many of my friends doing this… this is a VERY basic lesson.
  5. Sentences that are too long, or too short. One of mine is 52 words. My beta tells me that’s too long (so I fixed it).
  6. Connotation: Some words have a ‘feel’ to them, and they create tone. Make sure you’re creating the tone you want. “Murky” has a sinister feel. “Dim” is more benign.
  7. Make your subject clear. Is it apparent which of your characters is speaking? Who’s stabbing whom?
  8. Reiteration: Do you keep saying the same thing in different ways? But, do you have to?
  9. Adjectives and Adverbs: Use these only when they’re adding to your story. Don’t bog down your plot with them when they aren’t necessary. Google this if you’re confused… this topic has been covered well by others.


  1. Tone. Are you creating the suspense and effect you’re trying to create?
  2. Point of View (POV)–Accuracy: Is your character true to his/her point of view? I write in 3rd person limited, meaning my chapters are driven by what my characters know/don’t know. If your character suddenly ‘knows’ something he/she isn’t supposed to, you will lose all of your credibility as a writer, and let your readers down.
  3. Point of View–Characterization: I’m even going so far as to make my characters read differently. Myen’s highborn and proper, so I use larger words when I write her, and she thinks more. She also really, REALLY hates Eddy, so in her mind she demonizes him and often draws assumptions that are not necessarily true. On the other hand, Heike is impatient and has a foul temper at times. She doesn’t give a flying fuck about what kind of language she uses and she’s quick to say what’s on her mind.
  4. Pacing–Scenes: Don’t use too much description in your action scenes, or it will slow down the reading pace. Don’t rush through slow scenes either, or your reader will get done with it too fast and be all “that’s it?”
  5. Pacing–Sentence structure: Sometimes, a short sentence creates a dramatic effect. Try it. Sometimes, I even give a sentence its own line, to REALLY make it stand out.
  6. Organization: Does that sentence even need to go there? Maybe it should be earlier in a paragraph, or later. You may also need to move entire paragraphs, or entire scenes. Or delete them entirely. Or add one in.
  7. Plot: Do you have everything you need to tell your story? Need a new scene? A new POV?
  8. Literary Devices: Use these because they’re fun. Alliteration, foreshadowing, motifs, word choice, syntax.
  9. Plot Devices: Use the because they are MORE fun. Cliffhangers, prophecy, deus ex machina, red herrings, PLOT TWIST! etc.

Don’t ever, ever, ever bore your reader. 

And now, the video:


About oneofthedragons

Samantha K. Balk and F. R. Donaldson met on An Archive of Our Own, one of the many fanfiction sites online, when Sam asked Frankie to illustrate the fanfiction that would one day lead to Sam's first novel. They've been friends ever since! This blog was created as a way to share the oftentimes difficult journey any new author experiences on the uncomfortable quest of an introvert for attention to his or her most personal work. It is meant to remind you that authors don't just appear fully fledged like a George R. R. Martin, that all of us start out unsure and feeling inadequate. Feel free to ask us anything. Sam: Frankie:

Posted on December 20, 2014, in Information, Sam Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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