I'm always on the lookout for fresh ways to look at my writing. Let's face it, editing can get monotonous. When you've read the same thing so many times, you just stop seeing the words. But you can't let yourself do that—you have to see the words or things won't change like they should.
Here's a handy dandy list of editing tactics to try:
1. The Quick Read
I've found this extremely helpful when searching for continuity errors, repetitiveness, and overall flow of my writing. When you read your own book in a day or two, the "big" problems will jump out. For example, I'll realize I'm glazing over one chapter—maybe it's not compelling enough...what is it missing? Later on, I'll be read an action scene and think, "Hmm, the pacing here is too quick. I need to draw out that tension."
The Quick Read is the closest you can get to a "reader experience," though you'll need to be the most critical reader out there. I make notes to myself as I read and use those on the next editing round.
2. Chapter By Chapter
Or scene by scene, or act by act, whatever. Sometimes I like to tackle my book one section at a time so I can focus on something smaller and make it complete. Chapter by chapter is my usual tactic, since I sometimes have issues keeping my chapters on course. I often have to move info around or separate into new chapters.
3. Themed Edits
I often have a specific goal with each of my edits. I mentioned my usual approach of Plot, Character, and Prose edits in a very lengthy post, so I won't go into that here. The basic idea is to take it in small bites.
4. Reading Aloud
I've read several of my books out loud, since it forces me to look at the words on the screen. That, and bad wording or clunky dialogue jump right out when you hear it. If you hesitate or feel a little stupid saying it, then maybe there's a better way to write it.
5. Paper Edits
I personally edit much better on paper. I glaze over looking at the screen too long, but give me a fatty stack of paper and all of the sudden every awkward line and description pops out. And entering those edits into the computer is effectively another edit, because I often see more or tweak as I enter.
I haven't done this one—yet. I plan to do it because it sounds so smart and effective. Basically, you compile of list of your personal ticks and search for them. You look at each one and then decide to remove it or not. I assume I'll be removing most of mine. These can be words, phrases, and punctuation marks. Like in my current editing project, I went crazy with the semicolon. Seriously, there are several on every page. It's hilarious (and a little embarrassing).
There are plenty of ways to edit, and I think using a variety of methods is, um, the best method. These are just a few approaches, but please feel free to add more in the comments. Yes, I want to steal—I mean borrow—your ideas for myself.