My Manuscript isn't Perfect - Yet
I continually look for ways to improve my editing. Editing is the writing task I enjoy least. The first book I wrote, I edited it using ProWritingAid (PWA). It was a good tool in 2018, but it is even more powerful and accurate in 2022. After the PWA edit, I gave the book to some beta readers, who told me that I had to make major changes to the manuscript. I had too many characters that didn't add any value in the manuscript. All the beta readers told me to re-write without those non-essential characters.
I followed their instructions and whacked those characters. Then I ran the manuscript through PWA again and decided I was done. I didn't think I had money to pay an editor at the time, and felt that PWA was just as good as an editor. I was wrong. I published the book, sold a hundred copies or so and picked up some decent reviews.
A couple of years later, before book two was published, I found an editor, Joan. She agreed to edit book two, Zita's Revenge. Before she began editing book two, she felt it necessary to read book one. She told me that she would edit book two, but someday I had to get book one edited. It needed a lot of work. She then did a developmental edit of book two and the book was published.
I wrote a prologue to the series, Haskell, from Orphan to King, and Joan edited that story, too. Then when I was almost ready for book three to be edited, she stopped me and told me she wouldn't do book three until book one was re-edited. Okay.
Joan worked hard on book one and found a lot of logic errors, punctuation issues, real-world believability problems, and she plastered a ton of red notes over the manuscript. Yikes. I'm sure I didn't pay her nearly enough for the work she performed for me. So, I made the changes Joan suggested.
Ready to re-publish right? Nope. I had heard of writers listening to their manuscript as an editing step. I was reluctant to spend another ten to fifteen hours listening to this story. But I said, "I should give it a try." I write in MS Word and they have a text to speech editor. I just needed to find the right "voice" to use and then let it go.
It's a Game Changer
I was shocked at how powerful the technique is. When you listen to your story you find the cases where you put the same word side-by-side. You find the instances of forgetting to place a comma or a misspelled word. I found a character's name that was spelled one way early in the story and had a different spelling later in the story. Just a LOT of tiny little things that make a reader think the writer doesn't know what their doing.
I cleared up a lot of instances where I used the word "said" over and over.
Bill said, "Stay away from that girl she knows magic."
Lucy said, "How can you know that?"
Bill said, "She's my sister's friend."
And on and on and on. The writing experts say that the words "said" and "asked" disappear to a reader. But if you ever turn the story into an audiobook, then the person listening will wonder why you kept using said.
Other things I picked up were putting commas or periods before dialogue.
Bill picked up the spear. "It's time to kill that beast."
Lucy grabbed a knife and said, "Let's do it."
After the word said you need a comma, but after an action beat, Bill picked up the spear. you use a period.
I don't know that a developmental edit will always tell you each of those little grammar issues, so it's best you watch for them yourself. You still have to learn grammar, it'll make your edits go faster and give you other options as you write. Be the best writer you can be.
I'm now a firm believer in using text to speech to "re-read" the story. It's hard. It takes a long time. But it will make your book much better. I will say that I can do a better editing job now after three books than I could with only that first book, but even the first time I think I could have done a much better job by using text-to-speech. My next task for book three is - you guessed right - text-to-speech.
Kenneth Brown Author