Polishing Your Story (otherwise known as the “editing process”)

Edit? Rewrite? Some writers never edit their work. However,  the majority of writers do write, read, rewrite, reread,… and hopefully stop right there. Too much editing means you never write the next story. And you do have more stories to tell. I’m sure you do.


Here are guidelines to make the editing process quick and easy.

Add essential memoir ingredients.

The essential memoir ingredients are:

Story: What happened, often but not necessarily with a beginning that makes the reader aware of a problem or difficulty, a middle in which the situation escalates, and an end with a resolution

Character: Who it happened to or who caused or witnessed it along with at least a hint of their personality and sometimes a physical description

Setting: Where it happened and why this is important

Depth: How it happened and why, and what you and any other characters thought or felt about it and learned from it

Dialog: What was said; additionally, what was thought, or what you thought others thought

Physical senses:

What you saw (people and objects, color, texture, movement)

What you heard (people talking, background noise, sounds integral to the action and to the setting)

What you touched (and what that felt like)

What you tasted (good or bad, and what that was like)

What you smelled (Almost everybody leaves this one out, but it is a powerful sense that can make your reader feel close to your story.)

Emotions: from among the hundreds of emotions you can find in lists on the Internet, which emotions you felt right away and which you felt in the middle and at the conclusion of your story (However, keep in mind that the best way to describe an emotion in someone other than yourself may be to describe that person’s behavior rather than to name the emotion.)

Purpose: how well and how intensely your reason for writing is reflected in this story

It is a rare piece of writing that includes all these ingredients in a first draft. Most writers incorporate fewer than half of them the first time round. Some writers say they begin writing after the first draft, when they go back and work a missing ingredient or two into the fabric of a story that eventually is, as they say, “a good read.”


**add something here about reading your work aloud** **reading it backwards**

**I need something on copyediting.**

**this because this, not this after this**

**active voice rather than passive**

**sentence length**


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