While macro edits can be a challenge for me, micro editing comes easily. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s fun.
Since you might be wondering how I can get excited about examining every sentence, word, and comma in my story, I’ll satisfy your curiosity.
Suppose you discovered a diamond in the rough. An uncut diamond isn’t attractive. During the cleaving process, though, it begins to take shape, much like the rough draft of a story. Next comes the blocking, when the facets are made. I liken this to macro editing.
The final stage of preparing the diamond is polishing, during which the full brilliance and fire of the stone is revealed. This last step is similar to the micro edit of a manuscript. Without it, our stories won’t reach their full potential. We want them to shine so brightly that the publishing pros need to don sunglasses, and this final polishing pass can do that.
Taking a story from pretty good to great is, in my book, fun.
10 Things to Look for During a Micro Edit
Because I truly am a Diva of Details, I could make an exhaustive list that would blow your mind–and not in a good way. So, I forced myself to keep things general.
Spelling errors ~ I use Spell Check, but it doesn’t catch everything. Therefore, I do a careful read of the manuscript to catch misspelled words.
Grammatical mistakes ~ I turn on the Grammar Check feature in Word, which helps catch some of my grammar errors.
Punctuation problems ~ Make sure you know how to properly punctuate a sentence. When I judge contest entries, I often see commas, ellipses, and em dashes used incorrectly. Check for proper use of quotation marks, too.
Repetitions ~ Avoid using words and phrases in close succession or so often in a story that they lose their effectiveness.
Overuse of proper nouns ~ Avoid having characters call each other by name repeatedly since we don’t usually do so in real life.
Similar sentence structure ~ Resist the tendency to overuse the subject + verb format. Vary things, which will liven up your writing.
Consistency ~ This is where personal style comes into play. For example, if you capitalize a certain noun at one point, make sure it’s capitalized in every use.
Time sequence ~ Be sure the passage of time in the story is accurately portrayed.
Clichés – Replace trite, worn out sayings or overused plot points with fresh, new ones.
Anachronisms ~ When writing historicals, don’t use words, sayings, etc. that hadn’t come into use in the period in which your story takes place.
What are some others things you look for during a micro edit?
Bonus question just for fun ~ Based on this post, what’s one work I tend to overuse?