Archives: editing

I Can’t Afford an Editor

I Can’t Afford an Editor.”   

I hear this claim in every class I teach or writer’s group I attend. The complaint hides two fears: bloody red ink on your manuscript and the idea that a supposed, expert stranger will tell you what to write. The cost is a factor but it is not the factor. 


To allay your fears and minimize the cost know that editing is an iterative, not a one and done process. What do I mean?

  • Only you can write your 1st draft. Introducing an editor at this phase is a form of creative suicide;
  • Create a full draft, celebrate, and self-edit after you take the following steps:
    • Celebrate your accomplishment
    • Allow the text to marinate in a safe inaccessible place for 2-6 weeks
    • Read the full manuscript as a reader, not a writer
      • Understand that you can never be a fully objective reader
    • Return to the text to read as a self-editor
      • Is the point of view consistent?
      • Are there adequate transitions?
      • Have you used enough dialogue to move the action forward?
      • Is the pace and tone in keeping with the genre?
      • Did you use the five senses as tools to show not tell your story?
  • Use your self-edits to write a second draft.
    • Be amazed by how you have improved the text
  • Do a copyedit of the second draft, use online tools to help you
    • Spell & grammar checks
    • Search and replace tools
  • Ask other writers to act as beta readers:
    • Specify what you want from readers
    • Specify the desired turn around time
      • Be sure the anticipated return is reasonable for the length of the manuscript
      • Don’t resent a no response, timing is everything
      • Be willing to reciprocate
  • Read through the provided edits with care
    • Consider every comment and use those that resonate to complete your third draft

Presuming that you’ve made edits to the manuscript based on reader feedback, re-read the text with the above-bulleted self-edit questions in mind, performed a second tools scan, and made all changes you can identify you will have a completed third draft and you haven’t spent a cent. Congratulations!

Time to hire an editor.

How do you find the right editor?

See you next post. Happy writing.







The Bogeymen in the Closets of Writers

As writers,  there are two boogie men in our closets. The first is our internal editor, the voice that criticizes as we write. For most of us, that voice is reminiscent of the first teacher to grade our writing. I’ve yet to meet a writer who doesn’t shudder at red comments splattered across a manuscript. There is a place for that voice but it isn’t during the writing process. What do I mean by the writing process? In this instance think of it as your draft. The draft is the no rules – free zone, with one exception: page layout.

Page layout is not the time to be creative. If you plan to submit your work, set up page layout to meet publishing standards: one-inch margins, top, bottom, left and right, Times New Roman font at 12 pitch and one-tab return at the beginning of each paragraph.

Start Writing.

Really? Yes. Let the words come without judgment. Allow yourself to push your boundaries to achieve story. Write until you hit a wall or paint your characters into a corner. Step away to clear your head. Come back when you’ve recharged. Don’t need recharging have your character make a sandwich, stare in a mirror or make a call. Nanowrimo refers to this trick as a plot ninja.  Move the action move the story.

Image result for sue grafton writing yourself into a corner quote


Write and write and write without your internal editor. Write when your stomach churns or your chest tightens. Both are signs that the current writing makes you uncomfortable. A hard truth to accept is that your best writing comes when you are vulnerable. Surprise yourself and your reader.

Stay tuned, next time we let your editor out of the closet and put her to work.





© 2019 Lee Heffner – Author