Tips for Editing Your Writing

This post is sponsored by Grammarly.


I use Grammarly for proofreading because every time you publish an error in a Sherlock Holmes Pastiche, Professor Moriarty wins.

I’m currently in the editing process for my third novel, tentatively titled The Detective, The Woman and the Silent Hive: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes. Some time ago, I posted about the writing process and my tips for finishing a book, so this time I thought I would tackle some suggestions for editing, whether you’re working on fanfiction, academic papers, or a novel.

GrammarlyGrammarly is a new discovery for me, but it’s one I feel very comfortable recommending. I’ve always been of the opinion that a computer program can’t do what a human can when it comes to understanding the intricacies of the English language, but Grammarly’s program is something new. Rather than providing the rote, unimaginative suggestions of something like Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checker, it does a far more thorough and intuitive job of picking up on the actual nuances of language. It’s not a tool to totally replace human intelligence, but it’s a great way for writers to begin the process of taking an unedited manuscript and starting it on the journey of becoming polished and publishable. One of my favorite things about the program is that it doesn’t only mark potential mistakes; it explains in detail the reasoning behind the rules it’s using. I would certainly say it’s at the cutting edge of what technology can offer writers at the present time.

Use Your Own Eyes: Even if you don’t feel particularly strong in the areas of grammar and mechanics, don’t send a story or paper off as-is. Just because you have another editor lined up doesn’t mean you’re absolved of all responsibility for a clean manuscript. As a professional proofreader, I can tell you that it’s much harder to do my job when I get something that is completely raw and unedited. If the writer at least gives it a once-over, that gives me a much better place to start from, and it makes it more likely that I’m going to catch the littler things that make the difference between good and great. The thing is, even if you’re not perfect, your eyes will catch large typographical errors, repeated words, and blatant mistakes so that your editor can focus on the finer points. I usually go over my manuscripts at least twice in detail before I give them to an editor.

Get the Best Editor You Can Afford: Editing needs are not the same for every project. If you’re writing fanfiction to post for free, then it’s not cost effective to hire a professional to edit your work; however, sites like offer free beta reading services that can help you polish your writing. The same is true of a lot of university and college campuses. Free writing centers often offer not only basic editing, but also suggestions for improving your papers. If you are asked to pay, it’s usually much less than what an editor would charge in the private sector. If you’re writing a book for publication, your publisher may offer line editing; even so, you’re expected to provide a clean manuscript from which to start. If it’s worth publishing with your name on it; it’s worth incurring some editing expense. This is doubly true if you’re self-publishing, because you have a (hopefully diminishing) stigma to fight against, as well as no publisher’s name to hide behind. Using two editors is, in my opinion, ideal. I am fortunate enough to have two professional editors in my family. One edits my manuscripts for basic mechanics, and the other checks them for word usage, plot consistency, and the overall quality of the writing. For me, this setup works very well.

What tips have you found helpful for your editing process?


The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

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