Editing and Rewriting
There is only one way when writing a book that you can ensure your voice has been consistent, the information is true and accurate, the material is readable, and the book is everything you want it to be — to rewrite and edit.
Rewriting to Fit Your Style
Remember where Kurt Vonnegut spoke about two kinds of writers: swoopers, who write on and on and then go back to rewrite; and the bashers, who struggle with a sentence at a time until they get it right? Whichever you are, you will be rewriting — it's just a question of where and when.
The first step in rewriting is to read your first draft. You must do so with a critical eye and from the point of view of a reader who knows nothing beforehand about what you — the writer — has to say. Feel free to make notes but try to read from beginning to end so you can grasp the big picture.
Obviously, if you are a swooper, you're going to rewrite a large amount of material at one time. With a nonfiction book, you may write the entire first draft without looking back or, you may rewrite each time you complete several pages or a chapter. It doesn't matter which approach you take so long as it works for you.
Editing Can Be Fun
Some say that in every editor there is a writer. The converse is probably true as well, that inside every writer is an editor waiting to red-pencil. The difference is that at the end of the writing process, every writer gets to be an editor, like it or not, and this is a crucial stage in writing the book. And yet, editing can be fun because you get to wear another hat — that of editor — and you get to pretend you are no longer the writer, because you must look at the work from a critical objective perspective.
When examining your work through the eyes of an editor, you have to do so on two levels. First, consider the big picture and what no longer belongs in the book or what else may be needed. Second, you have to get down to the details and look at word choice, grammar, spelling, and techniques.
There is much to take into account when editing your work and some of this — such as deleting and adding material — has been discussed previously. But here are some points to keep in mind when editing:
Make certain the information is conveyed in a concise and comprehensible manner.
The ideas and meaning should be clear and logical.
Review the manuscript to be sure the point of view has not shifted and the voice remains authoritative and consistent.
Review grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other writing mechanics, confirming that where there is improper usage, you have intended this for the sake of a good read.
Make sure the language and word use advances the tone.
Be satisfied that the book flows smoothly from one paragraph to another and one chapter to the next.