8 Ways to Make Your Manuscript Look Professional – Part 2
On Monday, we covered Part 1 of an eight-item editorial tricks list, which detailed two specific tips to try out if you’re feeling a little lost polishing up professional articles, business blog posts, non-fiction books or novel manuscripts.
Today, we’re hitting up the last six.
So without further ado, here they are…
Editorial Tip #3 – Read It Out Loud
Typically, both novice and professional editors are used to relying on their eyes, which are admittedly a really great tool. But like most other tools, they’re not going to be able to fix every single problem you come across. Not all on their own.
That’s why it’s not a bad idea to also rely on other senses we might have, such as our hearing.
Did you ever learn that parable about the blind men and the elephant? How each one was shown to a different section of the creature – the trunk, the tail, the legs, the belly – so that they came to different conclusions about what an elephant looked like?
One thought it was like a snake. Another thought a rope. A third was convinced it resembled a fan. And so on it went because they were relying on their sense of touch alone.
You can’t blame the blind men for their mistakes when nobody gave them instructions about how big the animal was. The one who was led to the trunk probably just kept reaching up and up and up and still feeling nothing but trunk. Therefore, he logically concluded that an elephant is like a very thick snake.
If he and his companions could have used another one of their senses, however – their eyes, in this case – they would have understood the bigger picture.
They would have had a new perspective.
And the same goes for when we speak our own words out loud. Hearing them can give us a more complete analysis than merely seeing them.
Editorial Tip #4 – Walk Away for a Bit
If you look over the same copy too many times in a row, your eyes and mind might start to get a bit glazed. Everything blurs together or your mind simply starts to shut down. Or both at the same time.
Regardless, walking away from what you’re working on for five minutes, fifteen minutes, an hour – or, if possible, maybe more – can clear your head significantly.
Editorial Tip #5 – Take a Walk
Believe it or not, this isn’t the same thing as walking away. In this case, you’re actually taking your printed copy with you.
Yup, you’re walking and editing at the same time.
I’m honestly not really sure why this works, so I’m not going to try spinning you some awesome answer when I don’t have one. All I know is that it can indeed help you spot stuff you otherwise wouldn’t.
Just make sure you’re walking a very familiar, very cleaned-up route.
Otherwise, bad things could happen.
Editorial Tip #6 – Reading Backward Instead of Forward
I’ve never tried this trick before, but multi-published author Mia Zachary swears that it works.
Apparently, what you do is start out with the last chapter (if it’s a manuscript) or the last paragraph (if it’s an article) and read it all the way through. Then, when you’re done, you move to the second-to-last chapter or paragraph.
And then the third-to-last.
And then the fourth-to-last. All the way until you’re done with the first.
Rather like reading your copy out loud, this gives you a new perspective to view your writing from, which can help you identify problem spots a bit more easily.
Editorial Tip #7 – Listening to Classical Music While You Edit
I’m not a classical music junkie by any means. If you saw my typical playlist, you’d find much more country, Christian, pop and R&B than classical stuff. So this isn’t me trying to push my own preferences down your ears.
But did you know that classical music comes with major and immediate benefits?
It can drastically change your mood, helping you to calm down, boost your happiness and even fight depression.
From a physical standpoint, there are studies that indicate how it decreases blood pressure and diminishes pain levels.
And from a mental perspective, classical music can potentially boost your memory and your creative thinking skills.
Just make sure not to put it on for too long, as it could also make you fall asleep.
Editorial Tip #8 – Get Someone Else to Edit It For You.
If you don’t have the time, skills or inclination to edit yourself, then you can always hire a professional editor to do it for you.
This is a worthwhile option for ad copy, professional articles, business blog posts and the like.
And if we’re talking about novels-in-the-making or full-length non-fiction manuscripts, then getting someone else to look over your copy no longer becomes a preference – it becomes a necessity.
Self-editing can be a pretty difficult process, since we know exactly what we intended and therefore see exactly what we intended, even if we’re actually conveying something completely different.
Moreover, the longer the manuscript is, the harder self-editing becomes. So find someone else to help in the process – someone who’s intelligent and objective and constructively critical, and someone you can trust.
Your manuscript, your readers and yourself will all thank you when you do.