Editing for Pacing and Flow
By this time, you will have re-read your work several times and have probably already fixed a few places where the pacing feels “off”. Pacing is about creating a rhythm and only breaking it deliberately, when you want to draw attention to something. It’s about making the words feel right, regardless of what words you have chosen to use. Read the quote below.
Read it. Out loud. Change the places where you stumble, or stutter, or where you change the words naturally when reading.
Get someone else to read it to you. Does it sound the way you thought it would? Mark any places where it doesn’t.
If you’ve been reading on a screen until now, print out a copy and read that. Don’t make the changes as you read, just mark them to come back to. You want the flow that a reader would get.
You can also try changing the font before you read.
An app like the Hemingway Editor (http://www.hemingwayapp.com/) can be helpful for showing where your long sentences are. It will also point out adverbs (more on that later). Don’t feel like you have to change everything it highlights. It’s there to draw your attention to possible problems, but a computer is not the same as a reader.
For each scene, check that:
- Character names and ages are the same (e.g. Julie is not called Julia)
- Settings are the same, or it’s clear that the characters have moved
- It’s the same time of year and weather throughout the scene. If you mentioned morning frost on the grass, don’t later talk about tomatoes ripening in the garden!
- Character relationships are the same. For example, if you changed a brother to a cousin in a later edit, make sure you changed it in all scenes.