Get your laptop to read your draft back to you.
I find the hardest part about editing is distancing yourself from the text.
It doesn’t matter how long I leave between finishing the first draft and starting the edits, I can never read the text completely fresh.
Whilst some writers recommend changing the font to get some distance from what’s written, I prefer using the speech to text function on my MacBook and getting the laptop to read the text back to me.
My MacBook has a very dry, almost monotone English voice. With limited inflection in the speech, the words and sentences have to work hard to carry the emotion and tempo you’re trying to convey.
Listening to the text helps me to identify where my sentence structure is weak or confusing, and also helps to highlight areas for development in plot, description or characterisation.
The only downside is that once the read through begins, you can’t stop or pause it to change things on screen or make detailed editing notes (and if you do, you risk missing the rest of what’s being read).
This is where the “Insert Comment” function in Word comes in handy. It allows you to put a quick note in the margins for changes as the computer reads.
How you activate the text to speech function depends on your operating system. A quick online search should provide a solution. The keyboard short cuts are straightforward but you may need to set up the capability in your operating system first.
For me, this is always the first step in editing and since I’ve started doing this, I’ve had more acceptances and successes.
The final part of my editing process is to put the text through Grammarly, and I’ll talk about my experiences with that little slice of controversy in another post.