Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fifteen Steps For Copy Editing Your Own Work

You may have just finished writing the manuscript of an exciting mystery novel, but you know you're not really done yet! It is now time to get the text spruced up, so that your writing sounds fabulous to the reader. This polishing of text into a finished readable product is known as copy editing.

Most professional writers know that their book, or rather the first draft of it, would be filled with grammar, punctuation, spacing and other errors. They know that it can be nearly impossible to catch all these errors by themselves, so they look for a professional copy editing company to help them out. Such companies have professional editors who work together with the writer, to improve their copy while keeping the original tone and expression of the writing intact.

However, today, many authors wish to do copy edit their manuscripts themselves. If you are a writer who wishes to do so, here are some tips to help you out:

  1. Wait a bit: Give yourself a break of a week after you've finished writing your manuscript. Then write a synopsis of your work. Wait for a few days, before revising your writing, based on the synopsis.
  2. Read the entire manuscript from beginning to end: If your manuscript is not too long, you can print out a hard copy in a medium font. This will help you easily notice hidden errors. 
  3. Focus on various parts of speech: Select different nouns to describe the same thing. Consider using vivid action verbs, rather than passive sentences. Also, reduce adjectives and adverbs.
  4. Use descriptive language: Instead of using adjectives and adverbs to describe something, use descriptive language. For example, instead of saying 'the river flowed rapidly', say 'the river flowed like an express train hurtling down a mountain'.
  5. Use the dictionary: If you are not sure that a particular word means what you think it does, look up its meaning in a dictionary or on the web. You can also decide to use a different word, if you think it would say what you want better.
  6. Check the structure of sentences: Try to shorten long sentences so that they make sense, or punctuate them appropriately. Sentences with few words should have a purpose, or else they should be combined with another sentence.
  7. Active sentences: Try and substitute passive sentences with active ones, to make your writing sound more appealing, and reader-friendly.
  8. Avoid sentence rhythms: Sentences with alliterations or assonance may tire the reader, so change them unless you are using them for literary effect.
  9. De-emphasize emphasis: Avoid repeated use of scare quotes, italics and exclamation marks, unless they are part of the message you want readers to get. Such punctuation usually annoys readers, and gives your writing an unprofessional look.
  10. Appraise your writing for its style: Use slang, humour or a conversational tone, according to the personality of the characters, and the theme of the book.
  11. Do a word check: If you feel that a certain word has been repeated too often in your writing, cut it down, and replace it with synonyms or other text.
  12. Check the plot structure: Look for structural flaws, and alter the sequence of plot elements to make your story sound more convincing. Here, you can add interesting new scenes or subplots, or remove subplots that do not add meaning to the story.
  13. Check key words: This is the time to check if the names of characters, places and things fit. If you don't think they are suitable, change them to something more creative. Also, check if chapter headings fit the content of the chapter.
  14. Read your manuscript aloud: While doing so, change any sentences that are too wordy or long; and remove any words that do not fit.
  15. Send your book manuscript for publishing: Once you are done, read through your manuscript once again, before sending it for publishing.

Of course, if you are not self publishing your manuscript, you can consider sending it to a professional copy editor, who will polish it further. Professional copy editors have edited numerous manuscripts, and know exactly what publishers are looking for. They will give you useful tips on how to revise your writing, so that you get published. offers high quality copy editing packages and ghostwriting services. If you require professionally written/edited book manuscripts and articles, just email us at or fill in our Contact Us form now.

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