Growing Pains… The Self-Editing Process

I completed my fourth book in my novelette series. I have been neglecting this blog. I am sorry. I had trouble trying to find the ‘perfect ending.’ Well, I decided that my stories are not perfect. That’s what makes them awesome. They are raw, dirty, unpredictable and jaw-dropping.

I couldn’t decide on a character and if they were going to be good or evil so I played around with them a few scenes. Then let it come naturally. I did my darndest to plan out this book, at first, but it always turns out I write the way I think. I let it flow and it happens naturally.

When I plan, I tend to write myself into corners and look around aimlessly. If I don’t plan I can crawl out a window or use the back door. Weird analogies but I am hoping you all get it.

I recall hearing the famous quote by Hemingway Write drunk, revise sober.” 

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer
Photo by Tembela Bohle on

Well, I am very uninhibited with my writing. This time was different. I tried to plan. I tried to be sober. It took a little longer until I decided that doesn’t work for me.

My revising and self-editing is another story. This process I need to do many times before I consider giving it up to a professional.

I have Grammarly in my Word Doc so I can pick up some flaws that Word doesn’t see; if I overused a word or if I need a comma. Usually, it’s because I used a comma too many times (I think). Grammarly loves to use commas for the words but, and, so, yet. I was taught these words connect phrases so that you don’t need a comma and Grammarly loves to try and add them. I am always second guessing myself while self-editing.

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Photo by Alexander Dummer on

I also have Hemingway set up in my laptop but it ruins my formatting if I integrate the document and app. I must have downloaded it wrong. The way I use Hemingway is I have the document open (messed up format) on the app and my original Word (better format) open in another window.

I look at the phrases or sentences they highlight as ‘hard sentences’ or ‘very hard sentences’ and reword them. They also highlight how many adverbs used in the document along with word count. Hemingway tells you your goal to match or stay under.

Weak phrases and words are in both apps. I do my best to reword these. As I am working on the self-editing with these two apps, I see how much I have to learn. I notice I am getting better at grammar but still have a way to go as a professional.

Once I go through these two processes, I read the story again. I make sure I didn’t add to the story or delete an essential section because my grammar was poor. This area is touchy. I wrote it, I read it a few times already, sometimes I can’t remember what is still in the work or in my head.

I give a copy to my mom. She reads it and gives me feedback. She asks me questions or tells me if there’s something missing. If anyone is not afraid of telling me the truth, it is my mother. She is my biggest supporter and can be an honest critic. My mother knows success comes with honest feedback. I consider mothers to be true test readers.

I have others that I can go to. I use them once in a while, but many of my friends and family have little ones to care for, so it is difficult for them to find the time.

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Photo by Pixabay on

So, I get my feedback. I write down the questions and reread the manuscript. As I read, the story may change again. This means some other areas might change. I should mention here I have a printed copy of the manuscript and three highlighters.

The highlighters are to keep me updated on where and what I changed or what I kept the same. The yellow highlighter is used first. This is used to show where the significant changes are needed. The blue is where the main plot and scenes are. The orange is for the subplots and twists or turns. A pen is used to just cross things out entirely and rewrite in the margins.

After I read the hard copy, I take it and go back to the laptop. Sometimes this is more tedious than the original writing. I think this fourth novelette edit will be no different.

Jerry Jenkins has a 21-part checklist you can download for free. I read over it and if you don’t have any apps that are integrated into your laptops, I suggest you check it out.

Here are four of the suggestions in the checklist:

Deleted that, except when necessary

Omitted needles words

Chosen the simple word over the complicated one. Anywhere I could have simplified, I have.

Deleted the word literally when I actually mean figuratively.

One thing I found interesting is he said to omit overuse of adjectives and adverbs. I agree with this, I see it in my work. I noticed he uses adverbs in his checklist which forced me to recognize how he could have omitted the needless words.

I tend to do something so I need to add this to his list. Tense…I change the tense in my work without realizing. I go from past tense to present, and vice versa.

I would like to omit one from the list. Jenkins mentions using the word ‘said’ as opposed to any other option. I have found that an annoying word while reading if it is there too often. I feel it is not an ‘invisible word’ as many call it.

I know many disagree with me. I had a debate in my free writing class with my professor on this (years ago). I write a lot of dialogue in my stories. Half the book would be the word said (or says) if I did this. I would not want to read my own work if I went with the rule.

Most of the checklist is awesome and I use it. I believe in it. It will make me a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. I suggest you print one out for yourself. check out his website

After all of your self-editing and the checklist, more editing/revising is complete you pay your editor(s) to go to work. I can’t afford to go to multiple people on my stories. I know many go to a content editor, a proofreader, and the others to get the most out of their books.

My accomplishment is one editor. I am happy to afford one. Test readers will be another, thank goodness they are not paid. The ups and downs of newbie writers. Good luck, I see many posts on editing which means many are at that final stage. I hope to see some great stories out there soon!


Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. - Colin Powell

Have a great weekend and stay fabulous!

Robyn Branick


Robbie Ellie





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