Editing Masterguide by KU Creative Writing Staff and Writers in Residence

InterviewsPut down your pens, close your books and bid farewell to the MA Full-time Creative Writing class of 2014.

Now pick them back up and reopen Lockhurst quickly as we’ve got the mother of all workloads ahead. May submissions seem like a dot in the distance but we’ve all learned from semester one, time is notoriously deceptive. Especially if you’re like a certain member of the Words, Pauses, Noises team who leaves posting to the eleventh hour.

But fear not as our delightful tutors and writers in residence have bequeathed one final gift. Words, Pauses, Noises are honoured to present the top editing tips and advice, tried and trusted by our mentors and tutors. Gather around children because for some reason, I envision this post printed out and stuck up on many fridges over the coming weeks, including my own.

Jonathan Barnes:

  • Read your final drafts aloud – this will help to eliminate small repetitions, glitches etc. All text seems different when it is spoken.
  • Highlight clichés, then eradicate them!
  • Read a page of writing by an author whom you really admire and then return to your own editing, uplifted and inspired.

James Miller:

  • Where you have a long paragraph, cut the first and last sentence. These are usually waffle, the writerly equivalent of clearing your throat. This tip also applies to non-fiction.
  • Write early drafts long-hand, then type it up then print it out then go over it long hand. Then type up your corrections. Then repeat throughout the process. You should expect to do this many, many times.
  • Finished a final draft? Well done. Now open a new document and start again. You now have to re-write the entire book from scratch but with reference to the earlier draft. You are not allowed to copy and paste any of the old draft. Doing this will tighten your prose and intensify the drama of your story and is particularly good if, having ‘finished’ the first draft, you feel there is still something lacking. In general the more times you can go-over and rewrite, the better.

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