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How important is editing before you send a manuscript to an editor or agent? How important is editing if you self-publish on Kindle, Smashwords or for any e-book forum?

It’s the difference between having your best work published or just what ever you wrote down as you thought about it. I’m not criticizing or putting anyone down for their writing, but it’s important that authors maintain quality, not just quantity. The process of writing takes a dedication to learning the craft and working to improve your that writing. I believe that we should never stop learning.

The editing process begins with self-editing your work. It’s best to just write your story and get it out. Then, go back and start editing for content, flow, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Develop and expand the weak places in your story. Be willing to take parts out that do not advance the plot. Use grammar check to help locate passive voice and replace it with strong active verbs.

This is where you start. Take the time to edit and realize that many writers take five to ten drafts to get to the final manuscript that actually goes to print. Participate in critique groups. They will help you in the process. Get a good editor to review your work before submitting it.



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Tips for writers

Don’t spend time and words warm up your engines

Start with the action

  1. Choose active voice over passive voice.
    1. Passive voice clues:

Verb to be ( am, is, are, was, were, be)

The word by

Past participle (past-tense form of a verb, ie. Stolen, chewed

  1. Give an example:

The writing book that covered punctuation rules was chewed up by the teacher’s pet dog.


Active voice correction: The teacher’s dog chewed up the punctuation rule book.

  1. Use a clear subject to indicate who did what.


  1. Don’t totally get rid of passive voice, you need it if:
    1. You want to focus on the object, not the subject
    2. You don’t care who did what because it’s obvious
    3. You intentionally omit who did it
    4. Average of 5 – 10% passive voice. Know what your publisher expects.

How to find passive voice in an MSWord document:

Go to the “Review” tab on the tool bar above your document

Choose “Spelling & Grammar” Be sure that the box that comes up has “grammar” checked off

In the “text box”, be sure the box in the grammar options “show readability statistics” is checked.


  1. 3. –ing words should send up a flag to you – they are vague

Especially at the beginning of a sentence, ask yourself who is doing the action.


  1. 4. If your sentence is so long that you can’t remember the subject and verb or get lost, then it needs a rewrite.

Shorten sentences by: getting rid of extra adjectives or adverbs

Get rid of direction words – up, down, over, under

Words like and, after, although, if, since, before, because, so though, when, which and who should be used like seasoning on the main course.

Focus on the main idea

  1. Be sure that everything moves the story along. Things that have no reason for happening should be taken out of your story.