Seasoned writers will tell you that after they finish their short story or novel, the road to publication is still far away. Unfortunately some of our little darlings as we like to call them, those words we just love but aren’t needed, must be slashed from the text. But tightening your prose makes your work more powerful and interesting to read.
The 10% Solution, by Ken Rand, is an unsuspecting little powerhouse of less than 100 pages, under ten dollars, and contains relatively easy, but dynamite suggestions which will help you polish your project.
For example, Rand recommends doing a word search/find for all the words that end in “ly,” specific words such as that, was, like, or specific names that might be overused. When you find them, you can decide whether or not the word should stay, go, or be replaced.
He also advises reading your text out loud. Listen for glitches, stilted and awkward conversations, or repetition.
Both Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King, and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, site problems, pose solutions, and at the end of each chapter they provide examples for you to edit or questions to ask yourself about your own work to help improve editing skills.
As writers, sometimes we’re too close to our own work to catch redundancies or notice that in chapter five the protagonist has red hair and in chapter 23 his hair is suddenly salt and pepper. If you fit into that category, ask your critique group for help, hire an editor, or have a few trusted friends read your material.
Remember, when shopping for an agent you want to submit material that is squeaky clean and error free. Hopefully the above suggestions will set you on the path to both.