Friday, 20 November 2009


Top 10 Self-Editing Tips

by Guest Blogger:
Janice Hardy

Janice Hardy is the author of The Pain Merchants(UK Title)/The Shifter(US Title)
You can read an interview with Janice Hardy on tall tales & short stories by following this link

Running in conjunction with Janice's posts is a chance to win a signed copy of her debut novel. Details can be found at the end of this post.


Janice Hardy's Top Ten Self-editing Tips

1.  It’s all about the story. No matter how much you may like a scene or a line, if it doesn’t serve the story it has to go. Check each scene against the core conflict and make sure it advances it in some way, no matter how small.

2.  Layer it. Trying to edit the entire manuscript at once can be overwhelming. Edit in layers, focusing on one thing at a time (by chapter or the entire book) so you can focus and not get distracted.

3.  Check your goals and motivations. Characters without strong goals and motivations driving the story can lead to weak stories. Make sure every character is acting with purpose, and not just doing what plot tells them to.

4.  Check your character and story arcs. Is everything leading toward the exciting climax or do storylines go astray? Do characters grow or are they the same at the end? Arcs that advance and grow give the sense that the story is progressing, which helps keeps readers interested.

5.  Make sure it’s dire. Stakes are vital to hold attention and keep readers wanting to know what happens next. Make sure your protag has a lot to lose if they don’t solve their problem.

6.  Separate people. It’s easy to switch who says what during revisions, so go back and make sure you have individual voices for all your characters, especially your main ones. If you can’t tell who is speaking by how they say it, you might want to tweak further.

7.  Know your weak spots. We all have words we like to use or things we do that we know we need to cut. Hunt down the mistakes you know are there.

8.  Getting from here to there. Bad transitions can leave a reader confused, so make sure you switch smoothly and clearly when changing scenes, locations, and POVs.

9.  Bury the backstory. Backstory creeps in on a first draft all the time, because we’re often still trying to figure it all out ourselves. Look for those sneaky bits and find a way to include the info in ways that don’t stop the story. If you can’t, cut it.

10.  Don’t be afraid to cut. A lot of unnecessary information finds its way into a story because we’re uncertain if what we mean is getting across. Trust your reader to get it, and don’t beat them over the head when it’s clear what’s going on.



  • One winner will win a signed copy of Janice Hardy's debut novel.
  • The winner will be randomly picked from the entries.
  • The competition is open to all countries.
  • To enter please leave your name and email address in the comments box. Please specify which copy you would like - the UK or US version.
  • All comments are moderated and no personal details will be posted on this blog.
  • Further rules and conditions can be found in the sidebar.



John Robert Marlow said...

Good advice. There's also a blog devoted exclusively to self editing:

Self Editing Blog

Helen Vivienne Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracy said...

Sorry Helen but this competition was from 2009!

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