Editing your writing is a long process. There’s no magic wand for it, nor a whistle that blows when your done. But before you send it off, hit print, or self-publish, it’s good to do one last sweep to make sure the basics don’t let you down. Here’s a checklist to help.
Your built-in spellchecker is your first line of defence against misspelling. But it’s not foolproof. Make sure it’s set to the right language version and beware of auto-correct. And you should never rely on the spellchecker to catch everything for you.
Get your game face on because spotting typos in your own work is not easy. Typo taming requires you to read what’s there – not what you think should be there. This is why leaving some time before going back to your work is important. And why reading your work out loud is key.
Character names, place names, company names – however many you have there’s a fair chance you may have made a mistake on one somewhere in your work. Especially if you’ve ever wanted to change one wholesale and done a find and replace job. Handy though the tool is, it’s won’t have picked up all the shortened versions, or abbreviations. So you’ll need to check manually to make sure Emma doesn’t change to Kate halfway through (unless she’s supposed to).
Full-stops all present and correct? Quote marks where there should be? Question marks…questioning? You’ll doubtless have refined your punctuation in previous edits as it’s key for pace and dialogue. But just in case, it’s worth having a final check.
Digital software is meant to make things easy. But as soon as you start formatting, your writing can go wonky (literally and metaphorically). It’s especially important to keep a handle on this if you aim to self-publish your work. This is something to check after you publish too.