8 Tips for Editing a Manuscript

A writer/author should make the manuscript the best it can be before sending it to the publisher.  This goes for both traditional published authors and for Indie authors.

How can you make it the best possible?

  • Proofread.
  • Proofread backwards.  Start with the last word of the book to the front.  This will help catch typos that Spell Check does not catch, such as “there” vs. “their.”
  • Have someone else proofread.  Another set of eyes will help catch things you may not.
  • Ask Beta Readers to read your work and give you feedback.
  • Try “Grammarly” at grammarly dot com.  It is free and boast “Grammarly makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10x more mistakes than your word processor.”  Give it a try.  It can’t hurt.
  • If you can financially afford to do so, hire an editor.

If you cannot afford to hire an editor, read your manuscript line by line and do the following:

  1. Eliminate repeated words and phrases and replace them with different words/phrases.
  2. Search for the words “the,” “that,” and “had.”  Does the sentence make sense if you cut out these words?  I had a professor in grad school that said he if could he would cut the word “that” from the dictionary.
  3. Eliminate unnecessary modifiers such as the “ly” ending words – possibly, simply, etc.
  4. Get rid of cliches.
  5. Do not use words that you do not know the meaning.  Use the dictionary and thesaurus to find the meaning and other words that can be used in its place.
  6. Be aware of the “tenses” in your manuscript.  Are you writing in active or passive voice?
  7. Don’t be afraid to use the “delete key.”
  8. Rewrite, reword, rearrange sentences and paragraphs if needed.



Filed under Uncategorized

15 responses to “8 Tips for Editing a Manuscript

  1. Julia Molloy

    Great tips – I particularly like the idea of reading backwards. I’ll definitely be trying that one!


  2. Excellent tips. Reading backwards, passive tense and words “the,” “that,” and “had.” All things I need to look at. Thanks for taking the time to share this.


  3. Pingback: Best Fiction and Writing Blogs | Jennifer Brady's Blog

  4. Great list of tips.


  5. Nice list. Short and sweet. I’d add “Read the thing aloud” to the list as that catches clunky sentences, rhythm problems, awkward dialog, and word repeats. I haven’t read my work backwards and think now I need to. It just sounds so grueling!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. T.e.r.r.i.f.i.c. advice. 🙂


  7. Pingback: Best Fiction and Writing Blogs | M.C. Tuggle, Writer

  8. Your guide is a positive way to improve a manuscript and help turn it into a book. I believe a writer who cares about the readers will find a way to have their manuscript edited by a pro.

    Also, The rules, guidelines, for not using a editor are great, except when it comes to dialogue. To make a novel ‘real’ the word and phrases used depends on the character. This is not a critique of your post, just an observation. I enjoyed and got a few tips from you and I thank you for ‘that’.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    KISS (Keep It Simple Scribbler) tips worth following 😀


  10. Reblogged this on BRIDGET WHELAN writer and commented:
    Always useful to have editing advice, but I reblogged this article because of what it has to say about THAT. Should we/could we cut it out entirely?


  11. Reblogged this on Helen Treharne and commented:
    Great advice on self editing from Cindy Harris! Massive thanks for sharing – simple tips which make a massive difference. I particularly like the one about reading backwards – I’m definitely going to try that when doing those first few rounds of editing. Remember, getting a good self edit done may keep the quotes of a paid editor down when you send over those first few chapters for an estimate.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Simply Vogue and commented:
    There is a lot of great tips here!