Self-Editing Your Novel: The Final Steps

It’s editing time again, with this being our last post on how to self-edit your novel. Now you’ve completed our other three sets of tips, it’s time to look at polishing your manuscript off. You’ve made all the big changes, so stay with us to do those little adjustments that’ll make it shine.

find and replace

Take a look at your chapter headings. Are they just numbers, or do they have names, or both? Either way, they need to be consistent. Choose whether you want to use the actual numbers (1, 2, 3) or whether you want to write them out (one, two, three). And how are you capitalising the words in your chapter titles? Are they all in lower case, or does every word start with a capital letter? Whatever you choose, make sure this style stays the same throughout.

Consistency in spelling is also something you want to be aware of, especially in hyphenated words. If you’ve put a hyphen in book-wise at the start of your novel but not in bookwise towards the end, you need to pick one version and change all of the others to match. Do the same with capital letters too. If the Aura has a capital A in some places, make sure it does all the way through.

As writers, we all know which words we have constant difficulty with spelling (for me, it’s broccoli). No matter how many times you look this word up in the dictionary you can never remember how to spell it. Similarly, there might be some words that you type in the wrong order. If you know of any of these, it’s very easy to fix them. Put your cursor at the top of the document and do a find and replace (F5). If it were me, I’d be replacing brocolli with broccoli. This saves a lot of time and gets rid of any obvious errors.

We’ve already spoken about punctuation in a different blog post, but there’s one more bit we’d like to go over. Did you know that in the UK single quotations are used for speech, whereas in America double quotations are used? Some publishers do vary from this, but in general you’ll find it to be true. If you have a specific publisher in mind that you want to submit to, check which they use then change yours accordingly.

At this point, it’s a good idea to have a read through the manuscript and make any changes to spelling and grammar. Doubly make sure that there are no spelling errors or typos, and if a sentence doesn’t quite flow right rearrange it so it does. Can be tedious, but you need to be 100% focussed to make sure you miss as few mistakes as possible.

 

We’ve now reached the end of our self-editing month, so hopefully you have a well-polished manuscript sitting in front of you. There will inevitably still be mistakes in there, as it’s very hard to spot all of them in your own work. At this point we’d advise you to get someone else to look at it, whether that be a family friend or a professional copyeditor, as long as it’s someone who knows what they’re doing. Hopefully you’ve found these posts really useful, and thanks for following us through them right to the end of January.

Happy editing!

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