The Kingmaker: Editing Fiction For Beginners

How many times have I wondered, How on earth am I going to edit this thing?! The answer is, a lot. Now that I’ve finished the first draft, (spoiler alert, it’s 87,000 words at the moment,) I’m ready to start editing the manuscript. Now, if you’re like me and you have no idea where to start, I can help give a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way, from various sources and other authors. It can be daunting to edit your own work, you often find yourself very guarded over it. I love the idea of it, getting in there and improving the story, adding more detail, fleshing it out and cutting out bits that aren’t needed any more. Here are a few tips for the beginner editor.


Once you’ve finished your manuscript, leave it for a week or two. Don’t look at it, don’t think about it. Just let it rest, leave it to cool like a freshly baked loaf of bread.


Now it’s been a few weeks, you’ve managed to build up the courage to bring out your first draft and sit down with it. But maybe that’s not the best idea. Print it out! Get that manuscript in front of you, on paper. It’s better to read this way.


Read Out Loud, this tip, I think personally, is brilliant. Reading out loud gives you the ability to hear where the pauses should be. How the dialogue should flow and if things stutter too much. You don’t want a book that reads like a menu, do you?


Spelling. Now when I say spelling, I don’t mean “Oh god! I’ve spelt ‘Freelance’ with only one ‘e’!” I’m talking about the things you might have missed. Typing as fast as us writers and authors do, we often make mistakes that spell checkers would miss. For instance, I caught out in my first draft the word ‘soon’ when it should have been the word ‘son’. Spell checkers would assume this is right, but don’t trust the machines. This led to bad things for the world, have you never seen The Terminator?


Description! This is a massively tough one, do you have too much? Do you have too little? Only you know. Personally, I prefer little detail. Enough to make the readers imagination come to life and paint the rest of the picture, but let them know the big things. Think about how you want people to see your scene and if you’ve added enough in.


Beats, these are needed! Beats are actions that happen through dialogue. It stops your story from being an exchange of words between two people, who are doing nothing. They aren’t computers, they aren’t talking heads, they’re people. Generally, people do stuff while they talk. Walk around, eat things, play with stuff. It often makes the dialogue easier to digest and can be used to move the story forward.


Cut the Repeats! No one wants to read “and then” followed by “and then” rounded off by “and then.” Nor do they want to read, “was” “has” “was” “has” over and over. No one likes that. It reads like a non-fiction book. It’s not a statement of facts, it’s a story. This is why beta readers are so helpful to you, they can help pick out faults like these too!


Of course, if you need help, there are around a million sites out there that can do this for you. At a price. The alternative is to do your research and have beta readers go through your work with you. Remember how invaluable they are! Below is a list of links that might be beneficial to you!

Creative Writing Now

Resources for Writers

Helping Writers Become Authors

There are, as I said, about a million more. Feel free to use Google, it’s your friend!

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4 thoughts on “The Kingmaker: Editing Fiction For Beginners

  1. Good post with clear, concise information. Pro Writing Aid or Auto Crit are 2 free online editing tools that are also helpful (though they can at times cause you to lose the will to live) with many aspects of editing.

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