Editing 101

Mirror World News is back! That’s right, this week and next you’re being treated to two ALL NEW episodes of our YouTube Show. This week’s episode is about Editing in all its forms, so I thought I would supplement that with a blog post on the subject.

But first, here’s the video:

So let’s recap. Step one, write the first draft of your manuscript. Step two, edit. That seems simple, right?

Well, editing can really be broken into a whole bunch of steps. Or that is to say, you should edit multiple times for different reasons. It’s impossible to catch everything in one pass anyways and as you make changes, or have other people offer their feedback, you’re going to want to edit again.  

So what are the types of editing, or the things you should look for? Here’s my list In the order of how I usually approach it:mistakes


I’ve written a whole blog post on this topic already. You can find that here, but essentially this is the part where you go over your own work and improve it to the best of your ability. I look to correct errors and my own particular weaknesses, while improving style, word choice, and pacing.

imagesBeta Readers

I’ve also written a whole blog post on this topic. That one’s here. This is where you let other people read what you’ve written and offer feedback and suggestions. It’s important to keep an open mind when being critiqued, but also to take the suggestions of your beta readers with a grain of salt. Their ideas of what would improve the story may not always coincide with your own, and in the end, it’s up to you to decide what to change and what not to.

Content Edit

Tinfo-dumptruckhis edit can be done by a friend, or a professional. The editor in this case is looking for content-related issues such as inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or details. They should watch for places where there is either too much detail or not enough, and comment on anything that is unclear or confusing. Style, voice, pacing, and descriptions should all be paid attention to as well.

Line Edit

No matter what order the other edits are undertaken in, the line edit should come last. Again, this can be done by a friend as long as they are very strong with grammar, but I would recommend a professional or semi-professional for this part. The editor at this stage will be looking to fix any technical issues including, but not limited to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.


Hope that helps! If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and/or our YouTube Channel for more publishing and writing advice. If you have any editing related questions for me, or would like to suggest a future topic for me to cover, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

The Art of Self-Editing

Some people might call it ‘writing a second draft’ but for me everything that comes after the first draft is complete and before I let anyone else have a look at my manuscript is self-editing.

I see a lot of advice out there that tells you not to ‘self-edit’. Or at the very least to put the manuscript aside for a long while before picking it up again to gain some perspective. On the first point, I disagree entirely, and on the second, I’ve found that it doesn’t work that well for me. At least not at the stage between the first and second drafts.

Here’s a look at how I handle the process, personally. If there is one thing I’ve learned it is that every writer is different, but if you can learn something from how I do things, then that’s what this is all about!

images3So recently Murandy and I completed the first draft of Uncharted. Typically, I will put the manuscript aside for a week or two as I celebrate our accomplishment and take a breather, but as soon as I feel like ‘going back to work’ I get started self-editing. It’s important to wait until the first draft is complete before starting to edit, even if you’re tempted to go back and fix things as you go, because for one thing, you don’t want to second guess yourself while in progress and for another, you don’t want to get so bogged down with editing that you don’t get the first draft done.

When I pick up the first draft to start editing, this is typically the first time I’ve read the story in its entirety as opposed to being focused on a scene, or even a paragraph, at a time, so I feel that gives me at least the illusion of ‘reading it for the first time.’ On this first read-through, I keep an eye out for the story as a whole, but I also watch out for a bunch of other things:


While reading the scenes as they flow together, I want to make sure that the story stays interesting and engaging, especially to me as I wrote it and technically know what happens next. It’s good to keep an eye out for places where the plot lags, or places where events are skipped over too quickly that you can afford to flesh out. Also at this point, I take a really close look at my opening and eventually my ending. I want the former to hook my readers and make them want to read on and I want the latter to be satisfactory.landor

Worldbuilding and Exposition

When you know your own world and your own plot so well, it’s easy to forget that your reader doesn’t know it as well as you do. When reading through the first draft, I watch for places where a reader might get confused, or might need more information to comprehend what’s going on. This is especially important when working on a sequel in places where you have to reference back to the events of the previous book in order to make something clear. It’s also best to do this in as organic a way as possible and to also keep an eye out for places where too much exposition is given. You want to avoid bogging down the story with unnecessary details and also avoid over-explaining things and boring your reader.


As a writer, you know your own habits and weaknesses. A trap I often fall into is seeing places, people, and objects so clearly in my mind that I assume the reader can see them too and therefore, I forget or omit describing them to their fullest. So while self-editing, I keep a close eye anytime a character is introduced, or a new setting is reached, to make sure that I’ve fully described everything, and if I haven’t then I make sure to correct that omission.


This is the part that takes the longest, but is also the most important in my opinion. As I read through the first draft, I often do so aloud where possible, or in my head at a deliberately slow speed to ‘listen’ to the flow and cadence of the writing. The sentences as a whole and the words chosen within them should flow together and ‘sound right’. This is a hard thing to explain, but what I particularly watch out for is awkward sentences, incorrect grammar and punctuation (reading aloud is a great way to tell you where the commas should go), repeated words or phrases, added words like ‘that’ and ‘very’, redundancy especially in dialogue and all sorts of other things. This is the part of the process where you go through your writing with a fine-toothed comb and make sure everything is the way you want it to be.

My Notes

While writing, I notice things that I want to change or fix, or things that I know I didn’t do as strong of a job conveying as I would like. In order to help me avoid the temptation of immediately stopping to edit, I keep a list of things to look out for when self-editing. Typically these are things like make sure to add foreshadowing of such and such in chapter one, but it can also be something as simple as, character A had a gun in that scene, what happened to it? Or really anything you want to have a second look at.


And that’s it! Once I’ve gone through and created my ‘second draft’, I’m usually confident enough at that point to show my work to Robert (my husband and editor) and eventually, if he gives the ok, to beta readers. If I’m not feeling confident at this point, that usually means I need to go back and work a little more or, I’ll give the manuscript the shelf treatment and come back to it in a few months to try again. Or, sometimes as in Mirror’s Heart (sequels are hard) I needed the opinions of Robert and the beta readers to fix what was really wrong with it.

Good luck with your second drafts! If you have any questions or comments, please put them in the comments section below and I would be happy to read them!