Word processing packages offer a lot. Some like Microsoft Word cost. Others, like LibreOffice, come free. In the old days, authors would have typed on a portable or electronic machine, occasionally made errors, and either repaired the errors by using a liquid solution or torn the offending paper out and started again.

Nowadays, using by word processing suites, people can hit spell check. They can also cut and paste sections, an advantage when it comes to structuring a novel, as editors often tell their authors to place chapter two before chapter one. In the old days, the author would have had to retype; now they can highlight the section in question and cut to another place in the story.

Although the software packages have many advantages, they have the potential for fresh problems. Too much cutting and pasting results in general chaos and the reader feeling bombarded with too much information. As authors don’t read their own material objectively enough, they often overlook errors, both simple and major. Moving sections of a story around through cut and paste can also interfere with the original chronology of events; if the author fails to make the relevant corrections, timings, names and locations become confused, leaving the reader questioning whether the publishing house did enough editing on the book.

So what’s the best way of self-editing a novel? Personally, I think taking a short break before returning to the manuscript will the writer a fresh perspective. Also, dividing the story into sections (maybe quarters or sixths even) enables an author to pay closer attention to all the details.

Just a few of my thoughts.

 

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