Editing not only changes a piece of writing; it also transforms the writer. I recently read a quote about how a writer changes from the first book to the second. That idea stuck to me, that the old you already wrote the first piece of work. It doesn’t matter what a reader thinks of the quality of the book. The process itself is transformative. The side effects of the process are transformative.
I thought of some of my favorite editing tips I learned throughout the years. Writers are an incredibly supportive community and connecting with them has helped me more than anything.
-Put a piece of work in a different font before rereading it.
-Read your work out loud. (Zadie Smith famously advised to read your work as an enemy would!)
-Take time between drafts.
-It’s easy to throw out parts of your story that are bad but you know your work has improved when you’re throwing out parts that are good.
-Every page and chapter should give the reader a reason to move on. Leave space for secrets, conflicts, and cliff hangers.
-Sit with each character and study his or her arcs. Make sure there is a sense of change from the beginning to the end of the story.