Even if you have a wonderful editorial friend or pay for a professional editing service, that doesn't change the fact that you are the first editor of your MS. At least, you should be. My first drafts are Bad with a capital B. They are random meandering piles of run-on sentences, continuity errors, and repetitive words. In order to make Steven's job a little easier, I do an edit and a revision before he ever gets his paws on it.
Now, I am one of those people that hates editing. No, I loathe it. Really, I do. Why? Because it isn't fun for me. I like creating things, not tearing them apart. And that is how editing feels when I have to edit my own work. Steven doesn't have the emotional attachment to my MS as I have to it. Also, he is much better at editing than I am. However, I found a tool that helps take out a lot of the guess work for me.
SmartEdit is Windows-based software that is just oodles of help. The program, once downloaded, is easy to use. You copy and paste your MS into the window and then it does this thing not unlike a scavenger hunt: it finds the adverbs, repetitive words/phrases, cliches, and monitored words (that you can set). It does not make changes for you (like the find & replace function of Word). It merely compiles the list of things for you to check against your MS and fix as you see fit. The free version can be found at the bottom of the download page. The full licensed version is pricey at about $50 but it may well be worth it for some of the items in the full version.
What SmartEdit can do for you (* indicates item available in the free version):
- Repeated Phrases List*
- Repeated Words List*
- Adverb Usage List*
- Cliché Usage List*
- Dialog Tag Counter*
- Monitored Word List*
- Separate Dialog & Prose Checks
- Misused Words Highlighted
- Foreign Phrase Usage
- Profanity Usage List
- Suspect Punctuation List
- Proper Nouns List
- Acronyms Usage
- Sentence Start Phrases
- Sentence Length Chart
- Straight & Smart Quote Checker
- Dash & Hyphen Checker
- External Reports
Not sure if the full version is worth $50? There is one way to find out- download the free version and use it for a few days. Then, go back and download the free 10 day trial of the full version. I personally use the free version because I have very little use for at least 6 of the 12 other items. That external report item does look neat though, as well as the misused words highlighting and sentence start list.
Before I found SmartEdit, I edited and revised at the same time. My desk (and kitchen table, and bed, and couch, and pretty much any other flat surface) was littered with pages covered in red ink. I am old school. I print my MS out and then have at it with a red pen. My ADD kicks in when I try to edit/revise on the computer. Plus, the screen kills my eyes after a while. I am much more comfortable doing a line edit on paper with a red pen and may as well do a revision while I'm at it. This process takes upwards of weeks with many hours a day invested. It is exhausting, boring, and downright painful.
I used SmartEdit when I finished my latest MS to go through and find a lot of the things I would have taken out in editing/revising. I used it to find the multitude of adverbs that sneak their way in every single time. I didn't have to discover the repetitive words used by shuffling 300 pages of paper or searching for random words and phrases that I think I might have used. By taking out a lot of the guesswork, I ended up editing directly from the Word file without the eye pain and ADD issues because I was constantly in motion while working on my MS. Surprise, surprise- when I printed the MS to do my revision, it only took a few days to work through it because the editing was pretty much done!
I hope SmartEdit is a beneficial tool for you too!
Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS