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  • Laura Schaumer

Editing : Tips & Tricks from a Non-professional Editor

When I first started writing a story, I learned that the best method is just to WRITE. This technique is also portrayed from a scene in one of my favorite movies, Finding Forrester. In one particular scene, Forrester (Sir Sean Connery) is teaching Jamal (Rob Brown) the beauty in “just write".

Not only are they using one of the most fabulous writing tools, a typewriter (which I so badly want for myself), but they emphasize that the editing process should come after writing, after “getting it all down on paper”.



I personally like to pour my thoughts onto a page even if they do not make much sense at first. It helps to just expel all my thoughts and story ideas that fester like a whirlwind in my mind.



When I first wrote Kita and the Magic Paint, It wasn’t originally Kita and the Magic Paint at all! It was… well... It doesn’t REALLY matter what the original story was. My point is, the original story might not actually be the story within your finished product. There is a lot involved with the process of writing a children’s book. From word count, to tenses and making sure every word counts!


For those who do not know, most children’s books are roughly 200-500 words. There were 1245 words in the first draft of my Kita story Yes! Almost three times the amount of most children’s books! Keep in mind I had never written a book before.



After learning more about the process of editing I learned that every word counts! Delete all the words that don’t really help build the story. After re-reading your first draft, you will probably notice that a lot of the words you included are not really needed.


Example: It was a beautiful summer’s day and Tommy the Turtle was playing with his favorite toy, Gusto the Gorilla.


In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter that it is summer. In fact, information like that is usually “told” through the illustrations. So, we can take out a l


ot from the above sentence:


It was a beautiful summer’s day and Tommy the Turtle was playing with his favorite toy, Gusto the Gorilla.


We, as writers, have to think of the tense that our story is in. Is it going to be written in past, present or future tense? I think it’s best to write in present tense—straight to the point:


Tommy the Turtle was is playing with his favorite toy, Gusto the Gorilla.


GREAT! Now, the next step is reading it aloud. When we read our own story in our heads, it can sometimes sound different than when it is read out lou


d. Does it matter that Gusto is Tommy’s favorite toy? Or is it okay to just describe him as the toy Tommy is currently playing with? Can we describe the feeling that Tommy gets from Gusto instead? Keeping that in mind, the revised sentence is:


Tommy the Turtle is playing with his favorite toy, Gusto the Gorilla.


Read it back to yourself now. Are there words you would like to switch around? Remember every word is important in a children’s book.




Tommy the Turtle loves to play with Gusto the Gorilla the most.


I took out the words “the turtle”. Why? As I mentioned earlier, the illustration will show that Tommy is a turtle, so writing it in isn’t necessary. Rolling with that logic, I would remove “the Gorilla too”. Also, adding the words “the most” explains that Gusto is Tommy’s favorite toy. Let’s do that:



Tommy loves to play with Gusto the Gorilla the most.


Remember, I am NOT a professional editor, however, I wanted to share the tips and tricks I learned while writing my first children's book for those who are in the same boat I was a couple months ago! Plus I ALWAYS suggest finding a professional editor who specializes in whichever type of story you are writing, and get references from the editor on other projects they have done! In case you were wondering:

We went down from 19 words:


It was a beautiful summer’s day and Tommy the Turtle was playing with his favorite toy, Gusto the Gorilla.


To 8 words:


Tommy loves to play with Gusto the most.


Happy editing.


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