Writing and finishing a short story can be one of the most exciting things you can ever experience. Quite often, you can achieve this in a short time, and will still have all of the enthusiasm and excitement that you experience when writing a novel. Since it is a much quicker process, you can decide to edit your story right away and get it out there. Remember though, that there are various ways you can edit a short story. You can either choose to hire a short story editor to help you, or you can do it yourself. If you decide to self-edit your short story, then there are several steps you need to follow. This article is a guide to help you self-edit your short story.
Print Out the Short Story
When you are ready to start editing your short story, you need to print it out regardless of the page count. The good thing about printing out your story is that you have the chance to see the words on paper. Also, you can avoid distractions by getting away from electronics that can further distract you. And, if you intend to share the story with your friends or family members, then you can print out several drafts.
The first time you read the short story you should read it out loud. The best way to do this is to keep the pen away and read it just like someone who is trying to enjoy the short story. You should also avoid taking any mental notes. This way you can evaluate your reaction and feelings. It’s worth noting that writing any notes while reading the first draft can affect your editing process. Therefore, you need to write down your feelings and reactions once you finish reading the short story out loud, so as to not mess up the process.
After completing this process, you can now read your short story and take some notes. There is no standard rule on what notes you can take, but you do need to focus your feelings and reactions on the story. If you love any sections, you can mark them with hearts. On the other hand, if you don’t like a section, then you can draw a line through it. You can also write question marks after the sentence if you feel confused.
Use this time to write down synonym ideas, scratch out sentences, or question a line of dialogue. You can even choose to mark all over the pages if you have to.
Write Notes On Each Paragraph
After reading your short story out loud at least twice, you should take a day away from it. In most cases, many writers tend to get tired from their work and begin missing out on some areas they can improve. Hence, after you take this break, you can get back to your printed short story with a fresh set of eyes. This editing process involves doing it paragraph by paragraph.
You need to write some notes next to each paragraph about the way you think the paragraph moves the short story forward. This may be through word building, plot, or character development. Ideally, this will help to move your narrative forward. Keep in mind that a short story tends to have a limited time to fascinate, so you need to keep the story going.
Lastly, this method can also assist you to check the structure of the story without adhering to any formula. When you finish doing this, you can check if there are any sentences or paragraphs that don’t match any part of your narrative, so you can remove them. And, if you see that the short story doesn’t have structure, you can read other short stories you like for inspiration.
Character and Theme
Once you have assessed the structure of your short story, you can now assess the character and theme of the story. Remember that you can do this before you start writing the short story, or after writing it, if you prefer.
You need to have a consistent character, though they may do some things that don’t suit them. Even if the character fails to get what they need or want in the end, this should still be relatively apparent. After all, this is what drives the character, so if this is not consistent or present or you have too many of them, then it’s a good idea to spend more time handling this.
There should also be a reason why readers want to follow this character in your short story. This reason can be more internal or obvious to you as a writer. Whatever it is, you need to know it immediately and make it appear so the reader can follow along, as well.
When it comes to the theme of your short story, you have to see that there is a purpose to the story. This relates to what you are attempting to say with the version of your narrative and the reason for having the character. You should note that this is key to any theme, so you should always lookout for this when evaluating the theme of your short story.
Besides, you also need to compare the version of the theme with the original one in your initial idea. It’s crucial to accept that you can change the short story for the better. Therefore, you need to check how your ideal theme or character is different from what you wrote. Then you can assess to find out if the differences are good or not good. If they are not, then you should write down all the changes you want to make so that you can improve the short story.
Finally, after doing all these, you can now edit your draft. There are usually a couple of ways you can do this, though early drafts require you to rewrite the piece, read the first draft, and copy verbatim. Early drafts also require you to focus on plot and structure to make sure that you can edit your short story with a new perspective.
You can edit your short story several times depending on what you intend to achieve. You can then go through the above steps again, omitting some steps as you get happier with the structure, plot, theme, and character until your piece is ready to be published! Remember, this is a process to be enjoyed, so make sure you are happy with your piece, and then go publish it!