Self editing? Self editing is always a wise first step before hiring a professional editor. Let your manuscript sit for at least a week so you can come at it with fresh eyes, and then use this list of questions that you can ask yourself to try to find any problem areas. Be honest and thoughtful and patient with yourself, and give yourself time. Keep in mind that some of these questions apply more to one genre than to others.
General Storytelling & Stylistic:
-Is it the right length for the genre?
–What do I want to say in this book or text? Am I confident that, by the end of the book, I have said it?
–Do I have a message that comes through, even a subtle one?
-If I was reading as an outsider, are there things I might not understand?
-Is there anything illogical or unclear?
-Are there unusual words or turns of phrase that show up too frequently?
–Are there too many adverbs and adjectives? Or not enough?
-Are there any nonessential characters you could get rid of without impacting the story much?
-Are there any scenes or details that are not needed, that do not move the story forward?
–Does my writing evoke an emotional reaction?
–Are there places where I fall into the old telling vs showing trap?
–Do I engage all the senses?
–Does the book have a subplot? If so, is it necessary? Does it work?
-Is the setting unique, interesting, vivid, useful, and well described? Or is there too much description? Is it integral to the story?
-Are there pacing issues? Does it feel rushed or dense and slow? Are there places where the energy lags?
-If I use foreshadowing or suspense, does it work as planned?
–How is the opening paragraph? The opening line? The first few pages?
–Will those pages hook my reader or impress a literary agent?
–Does something actually happen soon enough or is there too much build-up?
-Could the story be better served by starting in a different way?
-Do we meet the main character or at least an interesting and somehow important character in the beginning?
–Are my characters well-developed, complex, and unique?
–Are they changing, learning, and growing?
–Are my characters empathetic? Is my protagonist at least likable in some way? Do they have flaws?
–Will my readers know which character to root for?
-Is there a worthy antagonist?
–How did I do with integrating character backstory? Is there too much or too little?
–Is the conflict between characters realistic or is it over the top? Does each character have internal logic?
–Does each character have a unique voice/speaking style?
–Did I include nonverbal communication and body language?
–Is there enough conflict in each dialogue? Does each snippet of dialogue have a reason for being?
-Does the ending make sense?
-Did I rush to get to the ending and skip crucial steps?
-Is the pacing to the ending correct or does it feel rushed?
-It is satisfying?
-Do I provide closure?
-Do characters get what they want/ what they deserve?
-Does the ending wrap up too neatly?
Good job going through these questions! Once you’ve worked through them, it’s time to share your work with your critique group or to hire an editor. Spalmorum.com offers editing services. Contact us for more details.