Self-Editing Your Manuscript

We saw this brilliant post on self-editing your manuscript on the Writer’s and Artists’ website and it offered so much useful information to budding authors, we thought we’d share it with you here.

All authors who want to improve their work should self-edit before sending it over to an agent. This way, the manuscript will get into good shape very quickly, and we can share our editorial notes after the basic errors are addressed – the type that you’d be the first to spot in someone else’s work, but missed yourself because you’ve become so close to your work. Once you’ve looked at the key elements of pacing, plot and character development, here’s some fine-tuning tools to really clean up your manuscript. We particularly like the look of the Word Frequency Counter!

1. Word Frequency Counter & Phrase Frequency Counter (Free)

Most authors have a preference/dependence on certain words or phrases without realising it. In my work as an editor at I_AM Self-Publishing, I often find that particular words or phrases are repeated over and over throughout a manuscript. Paste your work into the Word Frequency Counter and it will run a report on your most used words. Once you’ve skipped through the usual suspects (such as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘I’, etc.), you can begin to see heavily used adjectives and verbs that could be swapped for alternatives. Repeat the process with the Phrase Frequency Counter to spot any repetitive descriptions or actions.

self-editing word frequency

2. Hemmingway App (Free online or desktop version is $9.99)

The Hemmingway App analyses the technical side of your writing and gives you an overall score for ease of reading (though it is just a computer, so not to be totally trusted). It colour codes your writing to point out adverbs, confusing sentences, passages that could be simplified and instances where the passive voice is used instead of the active. Paste your text into the app and work through the colours, starting with blue (the adverbs) – see how many of them you really need.

hemmingway app

3. I_AM Self-Publishing’s List of Commonly Misused Words

There are moments when you get so swept up in the middle of a fast-paced scene or great, new plot idea that your typing hands can’t quite keep up with your brain. In the rush, silly mistakes creep in. This is perfectly normal.

To combat this, we’ve created a Commonly Misused Words List, so you can search for each one using Word’s find command and check that you’ve used it correctly. You would be amazed at what creeps in. While the list isn’t exhaustive, it’s more than enough to help you steer clear of the biggest offenders. (Your editor will thank you for cleaning these up, trust me!) To download the list, fill in your details here.