Self-Editing Help

Hey guys! I've been having loads of trouble self-editing and getting my grammar right on the chapters and such. Even if I look through the work two or three times I still miss things. Are there any tips that you could share on self-editing, or share how you self-edit? Thanks.

Honestly? The best bet is to get a program to help you if you can't get a human assist. And to accept that you'll never get it perfect... human brains suck like that...

Best bet is always a human beta-reader if you can find one. A fresh pair of eyes will always have an easier time spotting errors than you yourself will.

But of course, if that isn't an option, the next best thing I've found is to have a text-to-speech bot read your work back to you out loud. Seems silly, perhaps, but a bot will give you a good idea of your wording and grammar. Weird pauses or lack of pauses? Punctuation is wrong. Weird sentence? Wording is wrong. You're far more likely to hear mistakes than to read them. The added amusement of a synthesized voice can make it a bit more entertaining than a standard proof-read, too.

In terms of catching every single typo in a chapter by yourself, it's pretty much impossible just by rereading. Brains are designed to find patterns and figure out what a sentence means even with errors in the writing, and after a couple of rereads, you're not even looking at the letters anymore.

I'm pretty good at "writing cleanly" but even then, I'll usually have 1-2 typos in every 3k-word chapter I post. Thankfully, the webnovel format is very forgiving and will allow you to go back endlessly to fix your typos. I encourage my lovely readers to point out every single typo and error they notice and award levels when they do so (mathtans is the reigning champion by quite a bit; thanks!). Even then, I had a reader the other week point out a typo in a chapter that's been our for four years.

In terms of what you can do to to improve your overall typo rate and clean up your writing before anyone else looks at it:

- Get used to writing correctly, all the time. For instance, a lot of people don't use apostrophes or capitalize their I's when chatting online. Since typing is hugely dependent on muscle memory, this is going to lead to problems when you're trying to write flawlessly. If you notice you wrote something wrong, go back and correct it, to remind your brain that you care about that type of thing. (When it comes to chat, you don't need to overdo it. I find that if you use periods at the end of every line in chat, it comes across as extremely apathetic.)

- Figure out what your most common typos are. For me, 80% of the time, it's when I write "an" instead of "and", one of those mistakes that won't be picked up by regular spellcheck. If you know which mistakes you tend to make, you can be on the lookout for them.

- If you're looking for simple spelling errors, you can try reading a section backwards

- Make friends with a grammar Nazi and encourage them to nitpick at everything you write, whether casual or formal. I (being the grammar Nazi) have successfully taught two people to use semicolons correctly, 80% of the time. Other perks of long association could include understanding the subjunctive tense, the difference between en dashes and em dashes, and informative rants about people who confuse homophones ("peak" vs "pique" is the one that annoys me the most right now).

- Read well-proofed stuff. The same mental flexibility that allows you to understand writing with typos in it is the flexibility that makes you make the same kinds of errors. If you get used to ignoring them while reading, there's no way your brain will ping you to notice when trying to edit your writing.

One of my favorite tips for editing is if your schedule allows it to leave a chunk of time between each edit/writing step. For example I write my first draft and then don't touch it for a month. Then after my first edit I wait two months for a second edit. I then wait another month for a third edit. Finally I glance over it again briefly before releasing 2 weeks later. For those counting, that's 4.5 months minimum though from when I write something. You have to plan something like that out. I have a strict weekly editing/writing schedule that I have to hit each week.

The advantage of it though is that when you return to edit you're seeing it with new eyes. You have time to forget exactly what you wrote and how you intended to write it so you can see what you actually wrote. It isn't perfect and you won't catch EVERYTHING but you'll catch a lot more.

Read it through in different format to the one you write in - print, ebook, whatever. If you can, change the font, too.

The idea is to make the text as unfamiliar as possible. The more you distance yourself from it, the less likely you are to skim over mistakes.

Human if you can, but if you can't...

I don't have the money to pay human editors at the moment (even going chapter by chapter usually ends up being $15-30 depending on length), so I sunk the money into a yearly subscription - I waited for a 50% off sale, then went for it.

I'm finding that it's catching most things a human editor would - and the premium version (god, I sound like a walking advertisement) also does things like suggest word changes if a word is commonly used, or doesn't seem strong enough in context.

ProWritingAid is also pretty decent, and works with Scrivener files.

My process works as follows.

1. Write, trying to stay at least a month, if not longer, ahead of the upload schedule.

2. Edit/Grammarly the chapter the day after. Read uncertain parts aloud. Definitely read dialogue aloud.

3. Leave for a week but preferably longer, then edit again.

4. Hand it over to some fresh eyes. Sit on it until the night before upload.

5. Re-read/edit the night before.

6. Upload.

I bought Premium Grammarly like Stormy did in a 50% sale and it's a great investment. I don't think anything turns a prospective serial reader off more than sloppy grammar and spelling.

Some of my best tips were already used, so I'll reiterate them just to bolster their legitimacy :)

A) Read it, seriously. I played around with creating an audiobook of each chapter to accompany their online release, and it makes a huge difference hearing yourself speak it (especially the dialogue) than just reading the words. If you find yourself stumbling over a particular passage, odds are your reader will too.

B) Take your time. In between every 'edit' phase, I try to leave several days, preferably a week, so I come back to it with fresh eyes. Rereading the same lines over and over while they're fresh on your mind makes you 'numb' to mistakes you would normally catch right away.

Post with errors, encourage your readers to point them out so you can fix them.

Reading it aloud, as smatthews65 suggests, is probably the most effective way to do it. I find a lot of typos in stuff that I podcast. The problem is that it's time consuming, and it's still not going to catch everything. But it will catch a lot.

Thanks for the replies guys alot of good tips here!