How to Self-Edit Your Work: Stories from 3 Authors

Many writers have written books about how (and why) they write. Some offer tips on how they edit their work and how they go about getting feedback from others.

Feedback is always good. But there are other interesting things that writers to do ensure their work is at its best.

George V. Higgins: Read your work aloud

The late George V. Higgins was an attorney and Associated Press reporter for some years before he began writing fiction. His breakthrough novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, was perhaps his best-known work.

I met Higgins in 1991, at the University of Wisconsin writers Institute in Madison. He told us that it was always wise to read one’s work aloud. Doing this, he said helps you find the errors all more quickly.

Harlan Coben: Write as if you have a knife pointed against your neck

Harlan Coben is one of the top novelists today. His latest book, Don’t Let Go, is the latest in his line of bestselling books.

I met Coben last month at a book signing in Houston. Speaking to all of us readers before he began signing, he said he liked to write with the idea that there was a knife against his throat. If his writing became boring in any way, he said, in went the knife.

Stephen King: Write for your ideal reader

If you going to write something, especially for money, you want readers. Not to overgeneralize, chances are every writer has an ideal reader with whom they want to connect through their writing.

For the author Stephen King, his ideal reader is his wife, Tabitha, who is also a novelist. She reads all his drafts, and she’s not at all shy about giving him her feedback.

Consider these stories the next time you have a writing assignment.