Back to Back Issues Page
Revise to publish: Editor's Notes #338
April 28, 2021

You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair, the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart.
You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly.
Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.

—Stephen King

In this issue:

1. Revise to publish
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.Revise to publish
Whether your goal is to sell your book to a trade publisher or to self-publish, revision comes before publication. The trade publisher wants to see a polished manuscript. Self-publishers have a heavier lift because there is a deserved opinion that self-published books are inferior. The only way to overcome that is to make your book at least as good as traditionally published books.

In either case, a plan to guide your revision ensures you leave no stone unturned and keeps you focused.

It is NOT a good plan to simply start on page one and read until you think of something to change, change it, and keep going. Instead, it’s better to go through a series of revisions, each laser focused on one issue. Here are topics for revisions.

Check all names of people and places. Sometimes characters’ names morph into something else during the writing process or a town moves to a different province or state. You can check this directly on the computer, in which case, I suggest you make the font larger so it’s easier to see differences. You can also check names in a hard copy. In this case, I suggest you use something with a straight edge, like a ruler, and slide it down the page, stopping wherever your eye catches a capitalized word. Record the first instance of each name on a card, one name to each card. You need these cards later. For now, just stick to fixing inconsistencies.

When the spellings are all correct, go back through the cards. This time, record basic facts about each character. Include physical characteristics, age, character traits, jobs, anything else important to the story. If the character dies, be sure that happens only once, and AFTER the character does something else.

Check dialogue. Wherever you see quotation marks, make sure they are both opened and closed. Read aloud the words spoken. Does each character sound consistent? This includes vocabulary choice and grammar.

Create a timeline. Record any important dates, seasons, holidays, and times with page numbers. If you find things out of order, sort that out before going on. Put important timeline notes on the cards for each character involved in a specific incident.

Read through at least once to check pronoun use. He, she, it, they, them, and their can make perfect sense in your mind and sound like a tangled web to your readers. If in doubt, replace the pronoun with the noun it refers to.

Read each chapter looking for any problems. Read each again at least once more looking for things you can remove. Be brutal, and keep the original version in case you decide later you amputated something that needs to be restored.

Read each chapter again, this time, stopping at the end of each paragraph to ask, does this make sense; is everything in this paragraph necessary for the story; and is everything in this paragraph necessary here, or should it be somewhere else?

If you have trusted mentors or friends who tell you hard truths about your writing, or if an editor has warned you about specific writing habits, or if you are personally ultra self-aware, check through the manuscript for your personal Achilles’ heels and fix everything on that list.

Save all your corrections. Print out your whole manuscript and read it all aloud. If you see something that needs to be fixed, mark it, but keep reading. At the end, fix the problems you found, save your changes, print out the text and go through it again. Rinse and repeat until you don’t find any mistakes.

At that point, you should have a good manuscript. A professional editor may still find problems, so consider that final step. Having tended to everything on this list first should keep your cost for a final edit to a minimum.

If you want to know what your troublesome writing habits are, take advantage of the Covid offer below.

2.Tickled my funny bone
I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.

3. Interesting Web site
Did you know that Hemingway wrote forty-seven endings to one of his novels? His son and grandson collected various Hemingway drafts and published what they found. If Hemingway made forty-seven versions of one part of one story, how many do you think you may need?

4. Writing prompt
Revision means look again. What have you learned in the past by looking again at something you’ve written, something you’ve done, something you believe? Write about your revision.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
As I write this, politicians are deciding how we can change our behaviour in response to vaccination rates, hospitalization rates, and numbers of deaths in each jurisdiction. From what I am hearing I am maintaining my plan to hold this Covid offer open until September 2021.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. The offer is still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

Join Writer's Helper Facebook page at
Follow me on Twitter @AudreytheEditor

Link on LinkedIn (Email me first so I know how you know me.)

If you know a writer who would appreciate receiving Editor's Notes, forward this issue.

If someone has passed this on to you, you can get your own free subscription by signing up at

Back to Back Issues Page