After fixing the the big glaring plot-holes in your novel, you'd think the hardest part would be over, right? Wrong. The hardest part is about to begin. As you get more and more refined in your editing, there's more pressure to have perfection. The better it is, the more the faults become glaring.
Enter the line edit. Put simply, this is a deep-dive into your manuscript to pass over every line to check every. single. word.
How do you manage that? Easy, you use something called a text analyzer. These tools do a little bit of everything. They highlight passive voice, weak verbs, instances of the pronoun game, adjectives, overused words, adverbs, and just about everything else you could imagine. Some will even tell you what reading level your work is. They're super cool! And, chances are, you're already using one.
Do you have spell-check? If so, then you're already using the most basic form of a text analyzer. But as an author, you'll want to pick up one that's more advanced. And if you want to line edit effectively, you'll want to use three or more of these tools.
But keep in mind, they're only tools. Seeing the weaker areas of your prose is only the first step. Changing them is a problem in and of itself. There's no tool except an editor that can discern author's intent and extrapolate an effective replacement. You're going to have to figure out the leg-work on your own.
That said, there's nothing stopping any author from finding and using a text analyzer. It's a valuable skill that you should absolutely learn. I, for one, started noticing instances of passive voice in my writing and changed my whole writing style to avoid it.
Need help getting started? You're not alone. That is the point of these articles, after all. So I went and collected several analyzers just for you. Here they are:
Remember to take at least one day of a break between editing sessions. Getting out of the flow of your work can bring a new perspective that really helps with editing. Write it fast; Edit slow.
Don't want to learn how to use one of these, but still want some quick tips for making line edits of your own? There is another method I like to use.Start at the very end of your manuscript and read each sentence. Disorienting isn't it? That's exactly the point. By reading your sentences in reverse order you jab yourself with an unusual perspective and break off the usual word-flow you'd get from reading them properly. This ruins the pacing, but forces you to see each sentence as its own separate entity.
Some people prefer to do this by the paragraph, starting at the top of the last chapter and reading the paragraphs in order, but starting with the last sentence in the paragraph. If that works for you, do it!
There's no one "right way" to write or edit. Chances are, you'll be making several passes over your manuscript anyway. If one method doesn't work, try something new. Each time you're making your manuscript a little bit better.