Self-editing tips from a bestselling author - Authors A.I.

Alessandra Torre
November 20, 2020

Every author has a different process for what happens when they hit that elusive THE END moment in their first draft. Some celebrate with champagne and a well-needed sleepathon. Others toss the manuscript into a digital drawer for a few weeks to let their thoughts settle. And some immediately dive back into a self-edit.

It doesn’t matter when you do it — hours or months after completion — but you really can’t afford to skip the self-edit process, even if you use a team of professional editors. Authors need to do an initial clean-up and honing, preferably before your editor lays eyes on it (and you’ll definitely want to rewrite that “lays eyes” bit).

For First Draft Friday, we brought in bestselling romance author Penny Reid to share the to-do list that she moves through when performing a self-edit.

Here’s a quick look at her key actions, which we discuss in detail in the video above:

  • Remove crutch words, phrases and authorial tics.
  • Search for the passive voice — make sure it’s necessary or fix it.
  • Search for adverbs and, depending on the point of view, remove them from the hero or heroine to distinguish between the voices.
  • Assign certain words to each POV and ensure there’s no overlap.
  • Hunt down sections with two or more non-dialogue or non-action paragraphs in a row (internal thoughts or exposition) and break them up or remove them.

Interested in learning more about these actions? Listen in on our live chat (and please forgive our butchering of the word “divan”)!

Want to read some of Penny Reid’s novels? Visit to dive in.

To join in live or watch a past First Draft Friday, check out our library here. And please subscribe to First Draft Friday on Apple Podcasts.


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