In the first step of self-editing you focus on story and characters, mostly ignoring the language because you need to keep in mind you might have to rewrite certain passages anyway.
The questions below are only a beginning. Depending on your story, there might also be other issues you should pay special attention to.
By now you should have a clear idea of who your characters are. But when you are editing you need to step away from all the background knowledge you have as a writer. You need to view the characters from the readers’ point of view, with the knowledge they have in mind. Then ask yourself:
- Are your characters’ actions credible?
- Do the characters’ actions move along the story?
- Are your characters’ motivations clear?
- Have the characters developed?
- Is your cast of characters balanced in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation?
- Does the pacing of the story work?
- Have you cut superfluous scenes or storylines, which slow down the story?
- Have you created suspense efficiently?
- Are there any plot holes?
- Is there tangible conflict?
- Is the resolution understandable and not too rushed?
- Have you resolved all subplots?
- Is your narrative act successfully executed?
- Have you used foreshadowing and other literary devices appropriately?
- What was your authorial intention when you started out and what is it now? Have you expressed it in an appropriate manner?
- Have you brought out themes, motifs and symbols, which support your story?
- Have you made use of any other literary devices? Could you enhance your story with more literary devices or distinguish those you already used even more?
- Are you being continuous in everything, including, for example locations, character’s eye colour etc.?
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