Five Lessons For DIY Line Editing

This article, from P. Bradley Robb, originally appeared on Fiction Matters on 7/8/09.

Whether you’re self publishing or polishing your work to send to agents and editors, you’ll need to [do] some heavy edits. Line editing, going through your writing line by line and judging every word on [its] own merits, is a part of the writing process, marking the departure from writing for yourself and the start of writing as a job. With line edits, you’re focusing on tone, consistency, and style – the combination of which bring your story to life in the best possible way. Here are five lessons I personally employ when doing fiction editing.

Whenever Possible, Edit On Paper

I prefer a double spaced, 12 point, monospaced font. Usually that means Courier. The double spacing gives me room to write. The font face and size means I can easily judge word count – a page in this setup averages 250 words. Editing on paper allows you to hold the work, and doing so makes it feel more real. It’s there, it has weight, and just like reading a book, one lets you visually gauge how far you still have to go.

Whenever Possible, Edit in Ink

The other reason I prefer to edit on paper is because, for all they can do with a computer, it still isn’t as flexible as pen and paper. Yes, the modern word processor allows you to flag content with comments, to highlight, to underline, and even to strike through, but you have to pass through buttons and menus to do so. When working with pen and paper, the editing flow isn’t disturbed by attempting to translate natural motions into computer language. Even working with a tablet PC or a Wacom tablet doesn’t proof to be as easy or intuitive. So, for ease of use, pen and paper make things easier.

Read the rest of the article, including tips #3-5, on Fiction Matters.