Author Karen Lange on Editing

I’m always so happy when bloggy friends visit my blog–especially if they’re sharing some wonderful writing tips or techniques. :)

Today I’m excited to have Karen Lange, author of Home School Co-ops 101: Essential Co-op Tools, Tips and Options for Today’s Homeschool Families, which will be  available late September 2013 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

book cover Home school 101

Take it away, Karen!



It’s always fun to compare notes with other writers. Even if we write in different genres, we still have much in common. One thing we all do is edit.

How would you classify your editing style? Do you edit as you write, or focus and let the words flow then edit later? Or do you do a mix of both?

I use a combination of both, depending on what I’m writing. The following tips have helped ease many editing sessions. I’m curious to see if you use any of these too.

1) I allow myself to write badly. I’m not good at letting messy sentences go, as the inner editor combined with perfectionist tendencies wants to get everything right the first time. However, I’ve learned that it’s okay to crank out less than perfect stuff at first.

2) Print the work. There’s something different about reading words on paper versus on the computer screen.  Often we read our work on the screen thinking we know what’s there. Printing it can highlight problem areas and typos missed otherwise.

3) Let it rest. Stepping away for even a few hours can offer a fresh perspective. Things that sounded great (or terrible) before might sound different when we return.

4) Read it aloud. Then read it aloud again. Slowly. This takes practice, for as in #2, our brains often think we know what’s written and moves too quickly through the text.  The ear is a great editor, catching rough or awkward spots the eyes miss.

5) Get an outside opinion. Sending it to a fellow writer offers fresh insight. Hand it off to someone you trust (besides your mom, unless she’s a writer) for objective input.

6) Read it backwards, word by word. It forces your brain to focus on the actual words instead of skimming over blocks of text.

7) Eliminate distractions. I can lose my train of thought in the blink of an eye, which can lead to overlooking a mistake. So while editing, I do my best to ignore everything.

8) Don’t rush. Although this sometimes cannot be avoided, I try not to hurry through edits. When I’ve done so in the past, I often find a typo after the fact. Not a good feeling, especially once it’s been submitted.

9) Don’t edit when fatigued. A fuzzy head and tired eyes often misses things. If a deadline is pressing, sometimes even a quick catnap knocks enough of the fog away to focus, edit, and fix.

10) When I think it’s ready, I check it one last time.

Many mistakes are subtle and made unconsciously. These tips help me catch things that otherwise might go unnoticed.

Do you use any of these tips when editing? Have any others to share?

karen Lange

Author Karen Lange

Karen is the author of Homeschool Co-ops 101, a freelance writer, and online writing instructor. Her editing is helped along with liberal amounts of dark chocolate and iced tea. Stop by her blog or Facebook page, she’d love to see you!


Homeschool Co-ops 101:


Twitter: KLELange




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45 Responses to “Author Karen Lange on Editing”

  1. Karen Lange says:

    Nutschell, thanks so much for having me over today! You are such a sweet hostess! :-) Looking forward to visiting with your gang.

  2. I’ve never tried reading it backwards! Sounds like a new challenge.
    I do try to get each sentence right as I write it, but I don’t go back and edit until I’m done. And I always print out my manuscripts. I stare at the computer long enough, thanks.
    Congratulations, Karen!!

  3. I edit while I write. But then I do let the manuscript rest before I do another big edit. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Karen Lange says:

    Yes, I get tired of staring at the screen too. Thank you!

    I agree, letting it rest is a big help. Thanks so much!

    Happy writing,

  5. Thanks for having Karen over here, Nut!

    Oh, #1 I do. I could win the prize for the STINKIEST first draft. But wow. #6 really caught my eye.I love printing it out and reading it like a book. I do NOT edit while writing. I might go back and check for typos from the previous day’s work though. Editing as I go slows me down. (I’d never get the draft written if I did that.) CONGRADS AMIGO! Love you! XOXO *waves to Nut*

  6. Karen Lange says:

    I need to let my draft go more, I think. I try and edit too much as I go sometimes. Thanks so much, you are a sweetheart! :) Love you too!

  7. Jennifer Shirk says:

    I’ve just now started sending my documents to my ereader and reading and making notes there too to get a different perspective,.

  8. Excellent tips from an excellent editor. It was nice of you to host Karen today! Happy to visit your blog and ‘meet’ you.

    Again, Karen. Congratulations!

  9. Loree Huebner says:

    Great list, Karen. I’ve never read it backwards…out loud, but not backwards. Something new to try!

  10. Lydia Kang says:

    Such great words of wisdom! Alas, I have problems with #1. A big problem!

  11. Karen Lange says:

    Now there’s a great tip! I need to try that one, thanks! :)

    Thank you! Yes, backwards seems strange but it does help in an odd sort of way. :)

    Happy writing,

  12. Hi, Karen & Nutschell,
    I can relate to Karen’s tips. I print out my work, since things tend to get away when read onscreen.

  13. M.J. Fifield says:

    I have used all of these techniques—except for reading backwards, but I’m going to give that a try the next time I’m editing.

  14. Editing a book on a computer screen is so difficult. I miss stuff when I do that.

  15. Karen,
    #6 was totally new to me! I usually don’t print out my blog posts or essays. I do find printing sections of my books can help, though. I can sit in my recliner and edit – much easier when you’ve had a long day! Thanks for the tips.

  16. Read it backwards. That’s just crazy enough to work! Backwards it read!

  17. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks for following me on my travels! Appreciate it! :)

    Thanks so much. You’re making me blush! :) Yes, number one gets me too. All the time!

    Why is that? I can look it over on the screen 50 times and still find something when I print it up!

    I’m curious to see if it helps you. It’s different but it does seem to help sometimes!

    There’s just something about holding it in your hands, isn’t there?

    I don’t usually print up blog posts either, unless they are guest posts for another blog. Yes, after a long day, the recliner and sheets of paper are very nice! :)

    Yes, I know, it is crazy! LOL – it took me a second to get your last sentence!

    Happy writing,

  18. I’m in the process of final edits right now so this list is very timely for me. I never thought about reading backwards, sounds tough but also very smart! Thanks for sharing this, Nutschell and it’s great to meet you, Karen. :)

  19. Southpaw says:

    I read on a post that some one sent it to a reader (like Jennifer) but then had it read it back to her. That would be helpful. But I haven’t a clue how to do that!

  20. All good advice. The biggest one for me is stepping away for a couple days. I recently had a deadline and did not have the time for the “let it sit” stage; I had to send it out. A week later I went back to the manuscript and–wahhh!–so many stupid errors I missed because I was too close to the work!

  21. Karen Lange says:

    It’s great to meet you too! I’m glad the timing was right for this. Seems like we are often editing something, aren’t we? :)

    That would be helpful, wouldn’t it? I’ve heard of people having others read it to them, like in a critique group.

    Happy writing,

  22. mooderino says:

    Excellent advice, cheers.

    Moody Writing

  23. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks so much! :) Cheers to you too!
    Happy writing,

  24. Julie Luek says:

    Great tips– thank you for sharing. Before I send any article out to an editor I save it in a PDF format and have adobe read it back to me. I’ve caught more word usage errors, spelling errors (the reader will pronounce a work funky when it’s wrong) and awkward sentences that way.

    Thanks for the additional suggestions.

  25. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks so much! And thanks for that tip. I need to try that one! :)
    Happy writing,

  26. Hi Karen –

    I’ve been in editing mode for awhile. It’s amazing how much stuff I miss on the first read through. I especially like your tip about checking it once more when you think it’s ready. It’s saved me a lot of embarrassment.

    Susan :)

  27. HI, Nutshell, Hi, Karen.

    Great tips, and I use them all!!!!

  28. Fantastic tips, Karen! I especially like the reading backwards tip. I’ve heard of that one before, but I’ve not tried it. I really need to give it a go.

  29. Karen Lange says:

    Thanks! They are a big help, aren’t they? :)

    You’ll have to let me know how it worked for you. Thanks a bunch! :)

    Happy writing,

  30. I hire an editor. Its too much work and I’m not that good at it. And I like that second set of eyes to look the MS over.

  31. Nas says:

    Great post Karen. I’ve read so many places about reading it backwards, but have so far haven’t tried it. Will do so now.

    Thanks Nutschell!

  32. Nas says:

    Excellent tips, Karen Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks Nutschell (my previous longer comment has been eaten by the web!)

  33. joylene says:

    In Smithers, which is about 3 hours north of us, home schooling is very popular. I’m going to send this on to as many of them as I can remember. Great post, Karen.

  34. Karen Lange says:

    Now there’s another good idea! A good editor is a valuable resource!

    Thanks a bunch! :-) Appreciate you spreading the word!

    Happy writing,

  35. terri tiffany says:

    I do all of those edits except to read it backwards. Really? Sound hard.

  36. Karen Lange says:

    I know, I thought the same thing when I first heard about it. It is a little strange, but sometimes it helps! :)
    Happy writing,

  37. Good food for thought to chew on here, Karen. Thanks for sharing!

  38. Tyrean says:

    This is very sound advice, Karen!

    Unfortunately, I’ve edited when tired, skipped reading things aloud, and not had fresh eyes read my material in the past . . . and it always leads to embarrassment when that combination happens together. Usually, if I edit while fresh, read it aloud, and have someone else read it over, I’m ok.

    I’m going to have to try reading backwards someday. That has to be interesting!

  39. Karen Lange says:

    Thank you! Glad you could make it over to see us. :)

    Hey, I have edited when tired and whatnot too, and like you said, it can be embarrassing! Live and learn, right? :) Thanks so much!

    Happy weekend,

  40. Hi, Karen:

    Definitely, the printed word looks much different than the characters on a screen. I need to print everything to “really” read it.

    I hadn’t considered reading my work backwards. Good tips here!

    Thanks for your post. Be well, my friend.

  41. Karen Lange says:

    Hi Janette,
    Yes, it is different in print, isn’t it? Funny how it works that way. :) Let me know if you try reading backward! Take care!
    Have a good week,

  42. Great post, Karen! I’m a recovering perfectionist, so it’s taken a LOT of work to allow myself to write badly on that sloppy copy (first draft). But it’s definitely freed me to finish projects, set them aside, and clean them up later.

  43. Karen Lange says:

    I’ve struggled with that too. I like that term, a recovering perfectionist, I may have to borrow it if you don’t mind! :) Getting better at letting the sloppy copy go too.
    Happy writing,

  44. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell and Karen – great thoughts and ideas – but reading backwards .. you’d spell the words right (I hope) .. take your time editing seems to be the best ploy – one step at a time, and one last final read through …

    Reading it out loud allows the content to roll, or not as the case may be .. cheers Hilary

    • Karen Lange says:

      Yes Hilary, the backwards thing – it just sounds strange, doesn’t it? But for some it seems to work. I like reading aloud the best; you seem to catch those rough spots best.
      Happy weekend,

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