PORT MORESBY - So you’ve drafted a short story or a novel and want to polish it before sending it to potential publishers.
You don’t wish to put your work out there unpolished, because that’s a good way to make sure no one ever reads it.
You understand the importance of having a good editor look at your work. But, if you’re struggling to make ends meet and can’t afford an editor, don’t sweat it.
There are several options to get your work polished without spending tons of money. It’s a lot of work and will take up a lot of your time, but if you really want get your best work out for public consumption, it’s worth it.
First, read through your own work and use the Microsoft Word tools to improve it.
Use the Spelling & Grammar tab to correct spelling errors and the Navigation feature to search for overused words. Remove these words or replace them with synonyms from a Thesaurus.
Chop away extravagant detail and avoid ‘purple prose’, writing that is flowery and pretentious and uses big words to appear clever. All of these can be done on MS Word.
Then there’s several free online editing applications like the Hemingway App and the ProWritingAid. I’m using Prowriting to edit my novel. You can download the application and install it as an add-on to MS Word.
The Hemingway app is a great copy editing tool that will fend off typical writer errors. It helps identify long sentences, passive voice, overly complex words and too many adverbs. In short, it tightens up your writing.
The ProWriting app will find everything that Hemingway App didn’t, including clichés, sticky sentences and overused words.
However these applications are only aids. They don’t tell you whether your work is good, bad or needs improvement.
Automated applications are not a replacement for human editors. Thank God for wordsmiths like Ed Brumby, Chips Mackellar and Phil Fitzpatrick for editorial assistance.
Yes, it helps to have editors and beta readers who have English degrees or are voracious readers. Bonus points if they are honest and critique your work.
Set your ego aside on this and take constructive critique as a compliment.
Finally, it’s your work, your creative endeavor; and you decide if it is perfect.
With a little creativity, work, and time, you can polish up your work and ensure it’s ready to submit for publishing.