Editing your work helps you hone your writing skills and learn about your unique style and habits. Having a critical eye for your writing means you will recognize both your strengths and your weaknesses.

Tailor your efforts to focus on the areas that need the most improvement. Before you hire editing services such as FirstEditing, try self-editing your manuscript—not just to improve the paper, but also as a writing exercise. 

Editing for Beginners: First Steps

Start by running a standard computer spell-check to catch the most obvious mistakes. A spell-check won’t notice errors where the word has been spelled correctly but used incorrectly.  However, it will detect particular types of errors—and this might even reveal habits you didn’t even know you had. Perhaps you never realized you were spelling that word wrong all along. Or that you had been putting the punctuation in backward all these years. Self-editing helps you become aware of your writing traits.

Self-editing helps you become aware of your writing traits.

Make a habit of checking grammar websites to learn the most commonly made grammar mistakes.

You can also check writing sites to raise your awareness of plot or character clichés. Your professional editor will be the best person to find such offenders in a later draft. But it never hurts to examine your work early on as a method of self-improvement.

There are some great resources online for learning about grammar and writing. These include:

  • the Chicago Manual of Style website (chicagomanualofstyle), which includes an often witty Q&A section that covers a vast range of writing issues;
  • the (MLA) website;
  • Owl Purdue writing labs (owl.english.purdue.edu).

Also, as you read your work, pretend you are reading the words for the first time and pay attention to any repeated words or phrases.

Many new authors have certain phrases or word patterns they don’t notice they repeat. But agents or other readers unaccustomed to their speech patterns will spot them right away.

Finally, once you are happy with your draft, send your book to FirstEditing.com to have a professional editor review it. For only pennies per word, this final edit will catch all the less-obvious mistakes or hidden typos, as well as patches of writing that might be open to reader misinterpretation or cause confusion. Hire a professional editing service to check your work before publishing to ensure your final piece is as crystal clear as possible.

Originally posted 8/17/2010 and happily updated 10/29/2017. Thanks for reading!

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