7 Self-Editing Tips That Can Save You Editing Money by Re:Fiction

7 Self-Editing Tips That Can Save You Editing Money: a guest post by Re:Fiction's Tal Valante

Love it or hate it, self-editing is a crucial step on the road to publication. Trade-publishing? It can save your manuscript from the rejection pile. Self-publishing? It can cut down your professional editing costs significantly.
Here are seven tips that will serve your manuscript wherever it goes.

annekarakash, Pixabay

Tip #1: Consult Editing Software

An editing aid will help you catch some common mistakes such as faulty punctuation or odd usage. The software won’t replace your own editing efforts, but it will give you a solid start.

Don’t blindly accept every suggestion made by the software. Not all of them will make sense to you. Accept only the suggestions that preserve your original meaning.

Some popular editing software:

·         Grammarly. Has a free, light edition that does a good job. You can work directly on their website or install a plugin for the Chrome browser or Microsoft Office Word. 

·         ProWritingAid. Has a free edition that is slightly more limited. Here, too, you can work directly on their website or install one of their many plugins.

·         Microsoft Word (especially 2019 or 365). The built-in proofing tools in Microsoft Word have grown surprisingly powerful. If you own a license for Office, make the most of these tools.

Tip #2: Trust Your Ears

One problem with re-reading your own texts is that you often see what you’ve meant to write instead of what you have written. To help fight this phenomenon, listen to your manuscript being read out loud by your computer.

Malte Wingen, Unsplash

Listen closely to the narrated text. If at any point the narration sounds funny or lacking, pause it and double-check your manuscript. 

This technique will help you catch missing words, misspelled words, overlong sentences, and repetitive words.

You’ll find many types of text-to-speech software all over the internet. Some of them, like NaturalReader, have free versions.

Tip #3: Avoid Repeating Yourself

Every writer has a favorite word or phrase that tends to crop up too many times in a manuscript. After a while, the reader will notice this phrase and groan whenever they come across it. Avoid repeating yourself with the help of a word frequency counter.

A word frequency counter will tell you the most-often used words or phrases in your manuscript. Ignore the common “the,” “a,” “an,” “to,” and so on, but pay attention to any other word or phrase. 

JESHOOTS-com, Unsplash

Look up the repetitive phrases in your work. Consider each occurrence to see if you can remove it entirely or at least change it for something more original.

You can use a free online counter such as WordCounter.

Tip #4: Kill 95% of Your Adverbs

Many writers use adverbs to cover for weak verbs. Whenever you catch yourself using an adverb, ask the following questions:

1.      Is there a way to convey the same idea by using a stronger verb? 

For example, “walked leisurely” can become “sauntered” or “strolled.” For another example, “ate quickly” can become “wolfed down the food.” The stronger verb (even if it’s longer!) is often more colorful and evocative.

garageband, Pixabay

2.      Is the adverb surprising? 

Most people “smile happily,” so this example adverb doesn’t add much. But how about “smile sadly”? This adverb cannot be exchanged for a stronger verb, so there’s a good reason to keep it.

The most common adverbs are “very,” “almost,” “nearly,” and the likes. Search for them using the Find feature in your word-processor. Also, search for “ly” to capture most other adverbs. 

Tip #5: Don’t Double-Space After Sentences

The days of using a double space following a sentence are long gone. The double space remains only as a pet peeve for many editors. Luckily, it can be easily fixed:

In your word-processing software, start a new “Search and Replace.” In the search phrase box, hit the spacebar twice. In the replace phrase box, hit the spacebar once. Select “Replace All.” Voila!

Tip #6: Use the Active Voice

If you’re having trouble determining if a sentence is in an active or passive voice, put it through the “Zombie Test.” 

OpenClipart-Vectors, Pixabay

Find the verb (the action) in the sentence and add “by zombies!” right afterward. For example:

·         “I ate (by zombies!) the cookie” makes no sense. It’s in an active voice. 

·         “The cookie was eaten (by zombies!)” does make sense. It’s in a passive voice.

Tip #7: Educate Yourself on Homophones

Homophones are those pesky words that sound alike but have different meanings, like “they’re,” “their,” and “there.” It is commonly agreed that they were invented to drive writers crazy. 

Find a good list of homophones (such as https://www.englishclub.com/pronunciation/homophones-list.htm) and study it. Learn the difference between each pair. Such knowledge will complement your writing skills and make editors compliment you. ;)


Your writing matters. Your words matter. Treat them with respect and take the time to self-edit to the best of your ability. Don’t rush it. Feel your text improving with each correction you make and celebrate. Whether you’re looking for indie or trade-publishing, you’re on the right path!

NeONBRAND, Unsplash


Guest Blogger Bio

Tal Valante is the founder of Re:Fiction, a website for fiction writers of all genres and levels. To read more about editing fiction, stop by her article, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Editing a Book’. See you there!



Website/Blog:  https://refiction.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/team_refiction

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/team_refiction/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tal-Valante/e/B00IYPL87M



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1 comment:

  1. Fantastic tips. I'm on board with all! Personally, I love the paid version of ProWritingAid. :)


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