Given the fact that I didn’t attend a Creative Writing course or do a degree in English, I’ve had to learn many of my writing lessons the hard way. I don’t really mind as I’m a bit of an autodidact anyway (a fact that practically all of my school teachers will attest to). I’ve found lots of books helpful and have already listed the best ones on the blog. I also read as much as I can online from various agents, other writers and publishing industry professionals, as well as asking any writer mates of mine about their process.
One of the best editing tips I’ve come across concerns the three stages of writing: writing onscreen and editing, printing it out and editing, and reading it out loud and editing. I first came across this concept in a blog post (the author of which I’ve forgotten and so can’t link to – sorry) and when I canvassed other writers they all agreed that it was a good idea.
As soon as I started to implement the process I saw why. You can miss things onscreen that you will immediately see on the printed page: repetition of words, rhythms that are somehow off, even (God forbid) typos. And when you read the text aloud any clunky or unnatural dialogue becomes very apparent. A journalist friend of mine even takes it one step further and reads the printed pages in a café as he believes the change of environment helps him to refocus.
I decided to post about this because I’m at the final stage of my book now and for the last few days I’ve been pacing around my house reading my book out loud. (I’m sure my neighbours think I’m crackers, but that’s nothing new. As my Dad says, “There’s no point in being mad if you don’t show it.”) For any other aspiring writers out there, this is one tip that I would urge you to consider as it can make a huge difference to the finished work.