22 February 2017

Self-Editing Tips for Writers

As most of my readers already know, I'm in the midst of editing my next historical fiction piece The Country Girl Empress. With that in mind, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some tips and tricks that help me along the way to polish my writing.

Take a Break

After finishing your initial draft put it aside for a day, a week, a month or however long you need to return to it with fresh eyes.

Structure the Task

Tackle the largest tasks first, such as plot structure. Once you are satisfied with it, move on to the smaller details, like grammar, style, and punctuation.

Use Online Tools

Don't be afraid to utilize online tools, such as grammarly.com or hemingwayapp.com to discover which sentences might be difficult to read, improve your vocabulary and check for contextual spelling. While these online tools do not replace a flesh and blood editor, they can certainly help along the way. 

Read Aloud

It might sound strange, but read your work aloud; you can even record your own voice. Hearing the rhythm of the words can help you edit the flow. Sometimes it's easier to hear the mistakes than to see them. 

Check the Tense

Errors in tense can sneak up on anyone when in the midst of writing. Double-check to make sure you didn't inadvertently switch back and forth. 

Change it up

After reading the same text over and over again, you begin to see what you want to see. Try reading from back to front to uncover previously undiscovered errors. 

Be Ruthless

Do not be afraid to cut passages from your manuscript that just don't work! So it doesn't feel like a complete loss, paste the cut passages to a blank document for future reference. 

Change the Look

Modify the font, colour and/or font size to give you a new perspective. The altered appearance could help you see the text in a different light.

Since my list of self-editing tips is not all inclusive, I would love to hear what works for you. Please feel free to add to this list in the comment section!

Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added her debut historical fiction novel In the Shadow of Her Majesty to her ever-expanding collection of published writings. When she isn't busy typing away on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedInFacebookGoodreads and Google+.


  1. Good thoughts. I like your new title.

  2. Some helpful tips there. I'm currently editing my first novel and it's not easy having to cut the parts out of it that don't work. And the tense problem was very much evident in the early stages of my writing. It took a while to shake the present tense way of writing. I have a writing tip if I may pass it on. It's not great but I find it helps me to get the story out. Basically I eek out the end of the story first and then work my way up to that point. It's a goal to aim for and it keeps me motivated to reach the end. Thanks again for providing your tips.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Chris Jacklin and good luck with your novel! =)

    2. Thanks. I'm aiming for a may/June release if all goes well. Fingers crossed.
      Best wishes. Chris.