Chapter by Chapter: Ten Self-Editing Questions Every Writer Needs to Consider

Congratulations, you've finished your first draft! Take a day or two to celebrate your accomplishment. Then, get back to work-you have a manuscript to edit. When writing a book, self-editing skills are important to your success as a writer. However, many writers don't know where to start when it comes to looking at their own writing objectively. They can easily skim through for grammar and punctuation errors, but when it comes to the effectiveness of the content and images they create on the page, their own perceptions can be very different from what a reader reads.

Every writer needs an editor, but all writers can use the following ten self-editing questions to think critically and objectively about their own work.

1. Are your chapter titles effective and clear? For instructional works, they should tell readers what's coming up in the chapter. For a book about your life story, chapter titles can be more creative in their purpose. Still, look at them all to determine how they work together and whether or not they help establish the theme.

2. Do your opening sentences hook your readers? This is critical for both narrative and how-to works-grab your readers right away and don't let them go.

3. Do your introduction paragraphs effectively introduce the content contained in that chapter? For life stories, the first paragraph should set the tone for what's coming.

4. Are your subheads effective and clear? Subheads help guide readers through your material, much like chapter titles.

5. Do your chapter titles and/or subheads collectively work together to reinforce the theme and goals of the book as a whole?

6. Where do you need more subheads to make the information more manageable for your readers? Where do you need to transition between scenes?

7. Are the examples you use effective in illustrating your points, and reinforcing the theme? For memoir writers, does each scene move your story forward?

8. Are your main points clear throughout your chapters? For life story writers, are your story and theme clear throughout each chapter?

9. Is the information, or scenes, within each chapter presented to the reader in a logical way?

10. Does each chapter close in such a way that leaves your readers anxious for what comes next? In other words, don't let them put your book down for long!

Just like every writer needs an editor, every writer needs to learn how to think about their own work objectively-they need to see their own words as a reader will see them. This can be challenging, but it's definitely not impossible. When you use these ten self-editing questions, you'll be able to better see the challenges and inconsistencies in your own writing, and your writing project--whether your life story or the next best-selling self-help book--will be much better as a result.

Author:.

Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction authors develop and write books and marketing materials to establish expertise, grow a platform, and share their message in a powerful way. She has ghostwritten twelve books and publishes a free e-zine for authors who want to grow their audience of readers, spread their ideas further, and sell more books. Visit http://www.writerssherpa.com/ezine to subscribe.

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