Revising vs Editing, Part 2: How I Edit my Fiction

Revising vs Editing, Part 2: How I Edit my Fiction

Revising and editing are two entirely different things to me. In this post I will share with you what editing means to me and what I do during the editing stage. Below follow the way that I edit my fiction.



Because I am a visual person I’ve found that editing my fictional drafts with the help of highlighters makes the editing process easier. This is an idea that a Twitter-conversation from a while ago inspired me to do.

How, you may ask? Well, I use different colors for different aspects in the manuscript.

What I do with the highlighters is pretty simple:

  • Green — Word choice error: words I need to change because they don’t fit with the context, because they aren’t expressing what I want to express, because they don’t feel right, etc.
  • Pink — Show, don’t tell: if there is something told in my story that I need to show instead, I highlight it with pink.
  • Orange — Delete: unnecessary words, overflowing sentences, etc.
  • Red pen — I use red pen to underline every typo or grammatical error in the manuscript (typo underlined with a straight line, grammatical error with a wavy line).

You can use this method whether you choose to edit digitally or on paper. I personally edit on paper I feel more comfortable with that. But, the choice is yours. Do what you feel most comfortable with and what works best for you.


Different Stages of Editing

My editing process looks a bit like this:

  • Word choice — I start my editing process by reading through the manuscript, word for word, with the green highlighter in hand.
  • Show, don’t tell — Then I read through the manuscript and highlight what needs to be shown instead of told.
  • Delete — This is an important step because I have a few crutch words I need to remove from the stories for them to become, somewhat, clean manuscripts.
  • Add everything to the word document — When I’ve finished with all the stages above, I add the changes into the word document. Then I print out the manuscript again and go through the last stage:
  • Typos and grammatical errors — I save this for last because I think it’s a waste of time looking for typos and grammatical errors when I still have words and sentences to add to the manuscript. When I’ve later fixed the typos and grammatical errors in the word document, I repeat the process of looking for these errors two or three times more before I send the manuscript off to the editor.

While my view of the revision process is about the bigger picture of the manuscript, the editing process is about the smaller parts. Editing is about cutting unnecessary words, fixing spelling mistakes, word choice, etc.

While you can do all of this by yourself, as well as the revisions I wrote about in the previous post, I recommend that you hire an editor to go through your manuscript too. It’s vital that someone else looks through your work.

How do you edit your manuscripts?

Revising vs Editing, Part 2: How I Edit my Fiction
Revising vs Editing, Part 2: How I Edit my Fiction