Self-editing tips from H.C. Brown


Many of us  suffer from what I call "word blindness". The brain is a wonderful part of our bodies and it's function is to get the correct information to us at speed. This is why when we see  a jumble of words on a page so long as the first and last letter are correct our brain makes up the middle.

For example:

In a perxect woxld we woxld axl be rxch

In a perfect world we would all be rich.

Okay, so when we are reading through our manuscripts our brain tells us it's perfect.

I have found a simple solution to this. Most editors will tell you to put the M/S away for a few weeks and then go back to it. Or, print it out and read it.

So what if we haven't got three weeks to spare?

The solution  came to me by accident. I posted a critique on my critique group wall and it came up in a different format. I noticed errors straight away.
So the solution is:
Copy your m/s into another  document to keep it safe.
Every time you sit down to edit, select all and change the font to a significantly different one.
Or change the background color of your page.

At the end of your polishing  it is easy to revert back to the original font.

Common problems:

 Learning how to show and not tell a story.

Telling: She felt hot. She blushed.- Wrong.
Showing: Her face grew hot.  Heat rushed into her cheeks.- Correct.

Telling: She felt cold.- Wrong.
Showing : An icy breeze brushed her skin.- Correct.

Putting the re-action before the action is a frequent error.

She screamed as her feet caught fire- incorrect.
Her feet caught fire and she screamed in agony. - Correct.

Head hoping- how to keep POV.

  By adding adjectives to the  second character you can easily keep the main character's POV.

Lucy lifted her chin and gazed into John's blue eyes. ( Lucy's POV- why? Because she can see his blue eyes) John took her shoulders and bent to kiss her succulent lips. ( John's POV...why? Because he can see her succulent lips)
This is head hoping so we need to keep  Lucy's POV.

Lucy lifted her chin and gazed into John's blue eyes. John 's expression became intent, he took her shoulders in his large hands and bent to kiss her. ---- Here we can see John through Lucy's POV.

I hope this helps.

H.C. Brown

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