How do You Edit a Short Story?

Sounds like a set up for a bad joke.  The answer would be- very carefully!

Bob says, "Get to work."

Bob says, “Get to work.”

But seriously, when I started writing I didn’t really know where to start. I read articles and blogs but mainly just based it on how I revised papers in college. I joined Critique Circle, that helped. I’m working on revising/editing Mystic Brew, it was critiqued in October.  I thought I’d share what I’m doing with it now.

I had 4 people critique it. All were helpful, the thing with online critiques is you don’t know these people.

  1.  I printed the story out again, stapled it together.  I always work from a printed copy. I make changes on the computer but I NEED a printed copy. I labeled it EDITS in large letters.
  2. I printed out each critique and assigned it a number, stapled it together.
  3. I scrounged around for 4 different colored pens and assigned each crit. it’s own color. Ex: critique 1 is red, 2 is blue, 3 is purple, and 4 is green. I didn’t use black because the story is printed in black.
  4. I read each crit and mark the Edits story in the correct color. Ex. All of the red marks and notes are from crit 1. by the time I’m through, it looks like a 3rd grade went nuts. It’s covered in marks, questions, and statements.
  5. If a crit. had a particular interest in a certain element I make a note. For instance, crit 1 paid particular attention to dialogue format. So I made a note to check my format. Crit 2 brought my attention to filter words. I will admit I have never paid much attention to filter words, but I will now. I will have links at the bottom if you want to read about filter words. #2 was also a butcher, I mean that in a nice way. They called my attention to several areas where I need to trim or cut. Obviously, when I go back to do the edits I will have to decide if I agree or not. Crit 3 went on an adverb hunt. Crit 4 did a little of everything.
  6. I think the key to a good edit is balancing what the crit says you should do with what you think you should do. By having the crits on one paper in different colors I can see at a glance what areas were hit by more than one crit. I know off the bat that those areas need work.
  7. Steps 1 -6 is the easy part. Now I have to sit down and decide which advice to take and which to toss. I know the story and the tone. I know what I want to accomplish better than they do, but they act as the first reader. They pick up on issues I didn’t notice. Now, I take my rainbow covered story and edit it on the computer.
  8. Guess what, I print it out again and read it! See what I missed the first go round.
  9. This particular piece is headed to a local critique group. Who knows what they will have to say.

There you go. My insane edit process. For those of you interested in filter words, here are a few articles:

write it sideways

Invisible ink editing

filter words

Any editing tips to share?


Row80- Jumping in Midway

I know this round of Row80 is about midway through, but I could really use some help with goals. So, I’m just jumping in now. If you haven’t tried Row80 hop on over to the blog home and check it out. Be sure to visit the other blogs and give a little encouragement.

Goals for the remainder of this round (not really sure when it ends):

  1.  Edit/review 4 chapters of my WIP per day. I must check for head hopping and rushing the scene.
  2. Be more social online. I’ve become a bit of a hermit. Comment on 4 blogs a week.
  3. Critique one story a week on Critique Circle.
  4. Do the prep work for a new Halloween story stirring around in my brain. I have no clue how to measure that.
  5. Get a post office box so my address doesn’t show up on mail chimp.
  6. Participate more on author facebook groups. Stop lurking. Again how do I measure that.
  7. Write a promotional post for my new release.
  8. Write a guest post for my new release. If anyone is interested in helping read this.
  9. Have new photos taken for promotion-maybe.
  10. Learn to like marketing.
  11. Turn in daily assignments for Story Arc class on time.
  12. Learn the rules to volleyball. My oldest is on the school team and I’m almost clueless.
  13. Scare my kids with Festus, the stuffed rat.
  14. Decorate for Halloween.

GeeWhiz, that makes me dizzy just reading it. Pass the chocolate.



A word on revisions, critiques, and Row80

Work isn’t as crazy at the moment, giving me a few moments to breathe and plan.


As stated in an earlier post, I finished reading my WIP, “Dead in the Water”.  I had several issues to think about, beyond grammar.

  • Drop the prologue and write a new first chapter that includes the prologue and expands it into a real chapter.
  • Keep the name of the town. I placed the fictional story in the actual small town I grew up in.  I changed the landscape a little and added street names, but the landmarks and feel are the same.
  • Keep the religious references.  It was not written as a faith book, but faith is a huge part of many in small towns in the South.  Churches fulfill vital roles in these towns, and without them, the towns would slowly die.  I know it may turn off some readers, but it is a large part of my protagonists life…and mine.
  • Seek and destroy all uses of the word: inability.  A full reading of my WIP showed severe overuse.
  • Trim the fat.  My descriptions tend to run toward epic fantasy and must be pared down.  Granted in some areas a detailed description is necessary, but I don’t think we need to know ever inch of detail.  Maybe it’s a gender thing, but I noticed I describe what my main characters are wearing.  Not sure if all of that is needed.
  • Kill my darlings.  That sounds illegal, but I will do it…maybe.


I just had a story critiqued in CC.  I had the best critiques ever.  Not to say they loved it and went starry eyed, no they gave very helpful and detailed critiques.  So a shout out to everyone at CC, I now know how it is done!  I knew my story had a problem with the ending, but they found several issues that I had not even noticed.  So Thursday, on my day off I printed all of my critiques out, read through them, and sent my grades and a thank you to all of the wonderful writers who took their time to read my short.  Editing this is also now on my to-do list.


Reading:  I am reading another indie book, at least I think it is an indie sometimes it’s hard to tell.  I like it, but don’t love it.  I’m not sure if I will finish it.  Since I bought my Kindle, I’ve been going through my list of indie writer’s that I have met online.  The problem I will have is, what to do if I don’ t like it. A few years ago, I had a book review blog.  I made an effort not to review books I didn’t like, meaning I didn’t leave nasty reviews.  Not everyone will like a book.  I can only remember one book I read and really didn’t like and wrote a review.  All the reviews weren’t starry eyed, but honest and helpful.  But I also live by the motto: there are too many books to finish reading a book you don’t like.  If I don’t like it by the end of the first few chapters I chunk it.  Back to my problem, Do I tell them I don’t like their book or just grin and lie? I have 6 books on my Kindle only 1 is a traditionally published book (To Kill A Mockingbird).  2 books I’m not sure how they were published.  I have finished 1 short indie and loved it, left a nice review on Amazon, and another indie book I didn’t finish because I didn’t care for it.  It wasn’t by an author I knew, I just liked the cover 🙂

Revisions:  read the first paragraph, I have a little time this morning 🙂

Writing:  It was on the back burner.  Then my husband made a comment and it opened up an idea for a new book.  I might start planning that a little.

Submissions:  Still spinning my wheels over Wattpad.  I think it’s the fear of taking that first leap and looking foolish.


So how are your goals going this week?



Row80 Wednesday post

I’m keeping it short and sweet today.  I am wore out for work, barely had time to read, much less write.  I do have one thing to report.  I have a short story on Critique Circle, Miniature Desires.  Hop on over there and give it a look.

Reading: I’ve started reading a book titled, Downfall, by Terri Blackstock.  It’s in the faith genre, but it’s a suspense.  It’s quick paced and full of well rounded, flawed characters.  I hope to have it finished by Sunday.

Writing: none

Revisions: almost through with my first read of my WIP, should have been finished by now.

Submissions: none


It’s been a bit slow going.  The shop I work at is closing at the end of the year, so we are repricing everything in the store.  No small feat, considering it looks like a wing of Warehouse 13.

How’s your goals going?