Finished that first draft? That’s awesome. Completed a painstaking but indispensable developmental edit? Your manuscript is better than ever. What’s next? The line edit, that sentence-by-sentence examination of your book, making sure every paragraph, line, and word is at its best.
Join Kris Spisak and Julie Valerie for a podcast that discusses and expands upon topics shared in this post.
5 Key Reminders for your Book’s Line Edit
Podcast Recorded: June 2019
Intro & Outro Music: “Coming Up Roses” by Tangerine
PODCAST SUBSCRIPTION & DISTRIBUTION
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SHOW NOTES: Enjoy this 60-Day Edit developmental editing post and podcast with Kris Spisak: “5 Key Questions for your Developmental Edit by Kris Spisak + Podcast”
5 Essential Tips for Your Line Edit
1. Don’t let yourself get away with first-draft verbs.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with them, but you can usually do better. Watch out for repetitive “smiles,” “looks,” “glances,” “gestures,” “moves,” and similar overused words. Think about where a better word choice could capture what you’re looking for. Maybe that “walk” could be “creep.” Maybe a “stand” could be “perch.” Maybe “move” could be “stagger.” Powerful verbs move mountains—and make stories come alive.
2. Add specificity to your descriptions.
You could talk about how a character stood in a field, or that character could have her fingertips tickled by the long green grass and purple wildflowers whose stillness in this day absent of wind was only interrupted by the springing of grasshoppers leaping around her ankles. Be vivid, however best works for you—but choose to go deeper. Your readers will appreciate it.
3. Mix up your sentence structure.
Yes, short and sweet sentences are awesome for suspenseful moments, and long, meandering lines can set a beautiful scene. But long durations of one or the other can be a bit tiresome for your reader. Vary length; vary sentence beginnings; vary structure. Your flow and readability will improve dramatically.
4. Challenge yourself to never name an emotion but to always invoke it instead.
How could you evoke sadness or happiness without saying these words? Yes, this is a “show don’t tell” experiment. If you’re stuck on how to do this, check out great resources like The Emotion Thesaurus to help.
5. Don’t edit more than 10 pages or 20 minutes at a time.
You know your story. You most likely love your story (at least, at times). You’ll start reading and stop doing a close edit if you take on too many pages in a row. Stand up. Stretch. Touch your toes. Breaks don’t have to be long, but they are essential to maintaining your attention span for this fine-tooth-combing of your almost finished manuscript.
Editing takes time, but it can’t be something you skip. Don’t call your book “finished,” until you really know that it is. If you put it the work, you’ll get there. And then your stories’ possibilities are endless.
About Kris Spisak
Kris Spisak wrote her first traditionally-published book, Get a Grip on your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused (Career Press, 2017), with a goal to help writers of all kinds sharpen their craft and empower their communications. Her “Words You Should Know” podcast and “Grammartopia” events follow the same mission. A former college writing instructor, having taught at institutions including the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, Kris now works as a ghostwriter and freelance editor, specializing in fiction. She is on the board of directors of James River Writers, is the co-founder/director of creative strategy of Midlothian Web Solutions, and looks forward to sharing her next publication updates soon.
About Julie Valerie
Founder of the 85K Writing Challenge, Julie Valerie writes humorous women’s fiction and is developing a series set in the Village of Primm. Her first novel, Holly Banks Full of Angst, was sold to Lake Union, a commercial women’s fiction imprint of Amazon publishing as part of a 2-book deal and will be published December 1, 2019. Visit Julie Valerie’s author website at julievalerie.com. Never miss an update by subscribing to Julie’s author newsletter. Twitter @Julie_Valerie. Facebook Author Page fb.com/JulieValerieAuthor/. Instagram @julievalerieauthor. Pinterest @julie_valerie.