First drafts are really hard to write perfectly the first time. So in order to improve your story, you’re going to need to edit it. Which doesn’t have to be hard with some quick editing tips.
If you struggle with editing your story or the idea of trying gives you anxiety, don’t worry. The four editing tips below are easy to implement while you’re writing. Read more about it below. 👇
4 Quick Editing Tips to Improve Your Kid’s Book:
Whenever I begin a new draft, I clam up and feel too much pressure to write something amazing! Which used to prevent me from writing anything for a long time. So I had to learn how to become a great editor in order to overcome my perfectionism and write the first draft. (It really helped take all the pressure off of writing something great in the beginning!)
If you’re not an editor, here are four of my favorite quick editing tips to help you:
1 – Read your story & try to visualize everything.
There’s a reason people love TV and movies. Because they get to see the action taking place right in front of them. The same should be true with for your story.
Read through what you wrote and ask yourself if you can picture everything that’s happening. If something isn’t clear, then you need to fix it. In novels, that probably means adding more description to a scene. But what about in picture books?
If you can’t picture what’s happening in your picture book, then you need to play with your verbs. Change up the action so the reader can see what’s happening. And if it’s something real obscure, consider adding an illustrator note.
(Also, if you want to go deeper in active storytelling, I wrote all about it here.)
2 – Avoid using any word that ends in “-ing” or “-ly” like the plague.
Have you ever heard the phrase “show, don’t tell”? This means that everything you write should show the reader what’s happening in the story without being a list of everything that happened.
For example, you shouldn’t tell the reader your character is overly angry about pulling a couch up the stairs. Instead, you should show your character shouting their frustrations and maybe even wiping the sweat forming on the vein bulging out of their forehead.
A quick way to know if you’ve told the reader something and not shown them is to search your manuscript for any -ing or -ly words you’ve used to describe what’s happening. If you find any, you should delete them and replace them with something better.
3 – When a section feels long, try removing it to see if those words matter.
When your audience is kids with short attention spans, what you spend your time telling them matters. If while you’re reading your draft, you feel like a section is dragging on or has started to get a little boring, try cutting out sections and re-reading it.
If there isn’t any impact to what’s happening in that scene, delete that section right away. (No matter if you love what you wrote and thought that one specific sentence was amazing!)
Being able to decipher between what’s moving the story along and what’s distracting or pulling the reader away from the story is really important when you’re writing. And it will also help you cut your word count if you’re over.
4 – Listen to yourself reading your story out loud.
I do this with everything I write — picture books, chapters of my middle grade, even these posts! Sometimes what I think makes sense in my head, makes zero sense when I try to read it out loud. Instead, I stumble like I’m running on gravel. 😅
That’s how you know a sentence needs to be fixed ASAP. Otherwise, no one’s going to understand what’s happening.
Try reading your draft out loud and note where you stumble. And if you want to go a step further, record yourself reading and play it back. Being able to hear the awkward parts will allow you to quickly fix things.
There you have it! My four quick editing tips to improve your kid’s book: be able to visualize every scene, avoid using “-ing” and “-ly” verbs & adjectives, delete unnecessary words, and read your story out loud to listen for awkward sentences.
For more writing tips, read these other articles around the blog:
- How to Write with an Active Voice
- Best Tip to Learn to Write a Picture Book
- How to Know You Need to Rewrite Your Story
- 7 Writing Mistakes that Will Lose a Teen Audience