Wayne Stinnett, Author

Wayne Stinnett, Author

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Self Editing for Dummies (Like Me)

The bane of any writers existence. You just typed "The End" and now it's time to edit your masterpiece. Here's a very simple way to do a complete run through twice, that not only allows you to self edit, but makes for much better flow in the story.

Day one of writing your new book. I always try to write a thousand words a day. I usually get in between 1300 and 1800, so occasionally I take a day off. Anyway, once you finish writing for the day, type in your word count at the bottom and give it a chapter style, so the number appears in your TOC. This will be important later on.

The next day, before you type a single word, read the entire previous days work and make any corrections, additions, or deletions. Once you get to the word count you typed in at the bottom, start writing below that. When you finish for the second day, do the same thing, type in the word count and make it a chapter style.

On the third day, before you start writing again, go back to the very beginning and start reading/editing once more. Then start writing below that second word count and write until you achieve the thousand words and do the same word count chapter style at the end.

At this point, you've self-edited the first day's writing twice and the second day's once and have three numbers in the TOC along with chapter styles. These are the end of the first day's writing, the end of the second day's writing and the end of the third day's writing that you just completed.

On day four, go back to the first number, the end of day one's writing. This is why you make it a style, you can just click on it in the TOC. Delete the first word count style. Then start reading and editing again just like before. When you get to the last word count number, continue writing below it and enter the word count at the end, making it a chapter style. You once again have three numbers in the TOC.

Doing this will accomplish two things.

First, when you type those two magical words, The End, you will have self edited the entire manuscript twice, except for the last two days of writing. Read/edit the first of those once and the second one twice. Now you've self-edited the whole thing twice.

Second, by reading and editing the previous two days of work, you're putting your head back in the story where it was when you knocked off the day before. This is important for good continuity and makes for a much smoother story.

I still follow this habit every single day and once I'm done, it goes to a professional editing company for polishing and then to my "final eyes proofreader" for any finishing touches.

Hope this simple tip helps.


  1. I like your approach, I'll have to give it a try. Though, I was thinking I would add a timestamp along with each word count stop. This way I could gauge my temporal progress as well, and judge whether I was hot on an idea or stuck at that given time.

  2. What a great way to implement this idea!

  3. Sounds like a manageable process. I find I go back and edit the early chapters frequently, but not the middle and final chapters. This would fix that tendency.

  4. For writing, yes. I'm not sure what the formatter uses to convert the rtf file to pdf and mobi, before the finished files are submitted for paperback and ebook.

  5. Just wanted to say thank you for giving us this tip. I just finished up a 60k word story and the thought of going through it two times in its entirety makes me tired already. I will definitely be trying this method on the next one.