How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher

by Pamela Hodges | 44 comments

You have finished writing the first draft of your story, a version of your whole story from beginning to end. Now it is time to edit, to revise your words to make your story clear and compelling, so the reader will continue reading after the first sentence. Are you wondering how to edit your story? Don't worry; I have some advice for you.

How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher

Editing your story might feel like an impossible task, but with a strong strategy, you can edit your own story with confidence and improve your writing.

Whatever you do, do not skip the important step of editing your first draft. According to David Remnick, an editor of The New Yorker, “Revision is all there is.”

17 Steps to Edit Your Story

When you say “editing,” many writers think solely of grammar or punctuation.

It is good to have all your commas in the right places and to make sure you don’t mix up to and two, too many times. However, you might be wasting time editing for grammatical errors in a paragraph you decide to cut.

Edit for story structure before you edit for grammar and punctuation.

Here are seventeen tips for how to edit your story for both structure and grammar:

1. Write your story.

First, you have to write your story. A first draft is a complete version of your story, from beginning to end. Don't edit before you write the entire story. I know you want to polish your paragraphs, but please wait.

Think of your story as though you were building a house. The first draft is like framing a home. You wouldn’t put up drywall in one room, paint, and move in the furniture, before you have completely framed the house. Write the complete story and then revise.

2. Print out your story.

Wait. Before you print it out, run it through spell-check and correct all the grammar errors the auto-checker finds. Then print it out.

Wait. One more thing. Before you switch from writer to reader, let your story sit for a day of two, give it time to breathe. If you are on a deadline for a writing contest and just finished your first draft, and it is due in three hours, or one hour, take a few minutes away from your story, walk around the block, have a bath, or get a glass of water, then read your story.

Get away from the role of the writer so you can be your own first reader.
—Stephen Koch, Modern Library Writer's Workshop

3. Read your story out loud.

Okay, no more waiting. Read your story out loud. Have a marker in hand to circle any words that don't make sense or any that are repeated. Anywhere you have to stop to reread might need some work—circle it and keep reading.

Read the entire draft in one sitting. Don't stop to edit while reading; make notes in the margin as you read it about what makes sense, where you might be missing connections, places where there's confusing dialogue or missing plot points. Don't fix it yet, just mark it.

Story Structure

Now that you have written your story, let it sit, and read it through once, it is time to begin editing. Remember to start with your story's structure before you edit the grammar.

4. Revise for plot

Does your story have a beginning, a middle, and an end?

Shawn Coyne, an editor with over twenty-five years of experience, talks about the five elements of a story in his book, The Story Grid.

“The five elements that build story are the inciting incident (either causal or coincidental), progressive complications expressed through active or revelatory turning points, a crisis question that requires a choice between at least two negative alternatives or at least two irreconcilable goods, the climax choice and the resolution.”

Is there something that is compelling your protagonist to act, like an inciting incident?

An inciting incident is an event that forces your protagonist to act, compelling them to stop sitting around and do something.

Is there conflict in the middle of your story? A story with no conflict is like a cake with no baking powder. The cake won't rise. The story will be flat.

Does the ending resolve the conflict? Readers expect story resolution. If Aunt Mary has been taken captive by a herd of cats in the middle of the story, readers will want to know what happened to Aunt Mary by the end of the story.

Need help with story structure? Check out our full guide here.

5. Write in the margin what each paragraph does.

I have just told you to revise for story structure. “How do I do that?” you ask. Here is the first step: write in the margin what each paragraph does.

Take out the paragraphs that don’t move the story forward, or combine the paragraphs that are similar.

Shawn Coyne suggests you write down your list of scenes, the word count for each scene, and a short sentence to summarize what happens in each scene.

When you look at the word count for each scene, you will see if your scenes have equal weight. The industry standard is for the beginning hook to be 25% of the story, the middle build to be about 50% and the ending payoff to be about 25% of the story.

In a short story, you may have just one scene. Even so, look at the balance of the beginning, middle, and end. Do you spend too much time on the setup, with lots of exposition? Or is the climax too short, rushing the story to the end?

6. Take out the boring parts.

When you read your story out loud, if there are parts you don’t want to read because they are boring, or redundant, take them out.

Or as Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project, says,

“The most basic rule of editing is that if you can’t bear to read it, no one else can either. So when you find yourself skimming, commit murder.”

7. Second Draft Math Equation by Stephen King

Does this apply to your story? What do you need to cut? Where can you tighten dialogue or description?

8. Revise for Clarity.

Listen when you read your story. Is it clear who is talking in your dialogue? If there are places where you are confused, your readers will be confused, too.

Here is another way to find out whether your story is clear: ask your readers to summarize the story for you.

“If the story you hear back is something other than the story you told—you will learn where to revise.” —Stephen Koch

9. Revise the setting.

Does the setting seem like a place you have been? Does it seem real?

One way to make the setting more alive is to describe it using small details, to describe the setting using your five senses, sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch.

Edit for Grammar and Punctuation

Now that you have solidified your story's structure, I give you permission to edit your story for grammar and punctuation.

10. Look for passive verbs.

After you have revised for story structure, print out your story again and circle all of the verbs.

Verbs come in two types: active and passive. Look for the passive voice and decide if the meaning of your sentence would be clearer if it was written in the active voice or the passive voice.

When you use the active voice, the subject performs the action expressed by the verb: The dog chased the cat. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed by the verb: A cat was chased by the dog.

If the subject of a sentence is being acted upon by an outside force, the sentence is in passive voice. —Liz Bureman

If you are not sure whether you should use active or passive voice, you can read this guide. Liz Bureman gives several reasons why you would want to use the active voice or the passive voice.

11. Revise dialogue.

“The best form of dialogue attrition is said, as in he said, she said, Bill said, Monica said,” says Stephen King emphatically in On Writing.

Wait! Stephen King doesn't say it emphatically. He just says it. The focus should be on what was said, and not on the verb used to describe what he said.

Show emotion with an action instead of with adjectives. Like this:

“I hate you,” she said, hurling her French book at him. The corner struck him just under the eye. A bright red mark began to rise on his skin.

Remember to check the punctuation of dialogue in your story, too.

12. Avoid these seven words.

After you have revised your verbs, print out your story again, and look for these seven words which can weaken your writing: one of, some, thing, very, adverbs that end in -ly, and leading words such as mostly and so.

Joe Bunting, the founder of The Write Practice wrote a detailed article on how cutting these words will make you a better writer.

13. Look for clichés.

A cliché, according to is a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse.

Examples of clichés are:

  • Cold as ice
  • At this moment in time
  • Think outside the box
  • Like a fish out of water

The danger of using clichés in your writing is that your readers have heard them already. In fact, they have heard them so many times that they no longer hold meaning.

In addition, different cultures may interpret the cliché differently based on their cultural identity.

Is there another way to say the room was as cold as ice? You could describe the frost on the windows, or that you could see your breath in the room.

If someone was acting like a fish out of water how would they behave? I imagine a fish laying on the ground flopping around. Is that how you see the person in your story behaving? How would a person behave who was in an environment that wasn’t familiar to them? Would they be anxious? How do you show anxious? Would they keep checking their watch? Look over their shoulder?

14. Look for telling instead of showing.

Telling in a story is when you tell the reader a detail about someone’s character rather than allowing the reader to infer it for themselves. For example:

Henry was depressed.

You are telling me what to think.

Telling puts the reader as observer, separated from the story; when you show, I feel like I am in the story. The secret to show and not tell is to be more specific.

Showing is when you describe Henry’s behavior, and you let me decide what to think about Henry.

Henry stayed in his bed all day. The phone rang, but he didn't answer it. He didn't want to talk to anyone. He stared at the crack in the ceiling and counted the dead flies on the wax strip that was pinned to the corner of the window.

15. Search your story for sentences that begin with “I.”

After you have revised your story for structure, verb usage, dialogue, cliches, and the seven words to avoid. Print your story out again.

Search your story for every sentence that begins with “I.” Marion Roach Smith, author of The Memoir Project, suggests you re-write at least two-thirds of those sentences to begin with action.

If you're writing in first-person, you might still need quite a few of those “I” statements. Just make sure they aren't getting repetitive. (Need help with point of view? Check out this article.)

If you would like to improve your story's style even more, don't stop here.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is full of helpful tips about the elementary rules of usage, the elementary principles of composition, commonly misused words and expressions, and tips on style. Here are ten tips to improve your writing style from The Elements of Style.

16. Check your punctuation.

The Write Practice has an essential guide to writing with good grammar. The guide gives you advice about punctuation and how to use either, neither, or, and nor correctly.

Your story might be the best thing since the invention of sliced bread, but if you don’t know where to put a comma, a reader might misunderstand what you are trying to say.

17. Read it aloud one more time.

When you think your story is finished, print it out and read it out loud one last time.

Is there anything more you need to change? Is the structure solid? Are the word choices and grammar polished?

Or is it ready to publish? If so, share it with your friends and family, enter it in a writing contest, or submit it to a literary magazine.

Congratulations! It is time to share your writing with the world.

Don't Forget to Edit

I know you are eager to send your story out into the world. Wait—don't send it before it is ready. Remember to edit your story to make it the best it can be.

Then, when you have done everything you can, be bold and publish.

You are the writer. The story you wrote is yours. Listen to advice, learn from it, and keep writing.

Do you have any other tips on how to edit your story? Let me know in the comments.


Find a story you have already written. Maybe it is a chapter of your work in progress, maybe it is a practice you shared on another article, or maybe it's something else. Take fifteen minutes to work through as many of the steps above as you can.

If you don't have something written already, take five minutes to write a story about a woman who has too many litter boxes (or any other household item). Pause for a moment to let your mind clear. Then, take ten minutes to work through as many of the steps above as you can.

When your time is up, share your editing practice in the Pro Practice Workshop here. If you share, please leave feedback for your fellow writers.

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Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at


  1. Rag Mars

    There are different Levels of „Editing“…the most obvious is the Mechanics like Typing, Grammar,
    better phrasing for precision, even the brutality of Butchering limbs off…
    The more demanding is Reflection: did I put a good description of my images into letters…
    Almost like remembering a distant dream, which needs to be remembered
    The most difficult is concept Overlap: several different stories are merged into one, like
    watching several TV programs the same time…it requires skills in Anatomy.
    The best stories do not need anything at all. You can not make them worse.And not better…

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Rag Mars,
      I agree refection can be the most demanding as a writer. It important for a writer to think about what they are trying to say in their story, and by reflecting they can see if what they wanted to say was heard.
      Saving earlier drafts is a good idea. Sometimes after I have revised a story several times, I go back to an earlier draft and find the first way I wrote a section was written more clearly the first time.
      What kind of story do you like to write?

    • Rag Mars

      The best stories are not written yet. An old Wine Cellar in Southern France hides the
      best wines of the last 200 years well preserved deep in a cave in the Mountain. Le Comte de Monte-Cristo was one of those well hidden manuscripts discovered there…. by chance by Auguste Maquet.
      Disguised as an old peasant from the area, I stroll through those hills and one day, like
      Carter and Maquet, I find that cave and its treasures of wine and manuscripts. Now you know, why the best and most precious is never available…

  2. S.Ramalingam

    You suggest not to edit mine until I complete my first draft.But there are others who suggest it is always good to edit then and there while I am writing.The latter idea sounds to me a sound proposal, because this idea is time savy and quickens my creativity and of course enables me to publish mine as quickly as possible..

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello S. Ramalingam,
      If you edit while you are writing, you might forget the story you are trying to tell as you re-write sentences.

      Shawn Coyne, the author of “The Story Grid” said, “I cannot overemphasize how important it is NOT TO RE-WRITE your first draft. Until you reach its final two words . . . THE END.”
      Here is an article on writing first drafts. Hopefully it will help you with your writing.

  3. Debra johnson

    I fall into the I want to get the story out there as soon as I can. But then there are times I tell too much not leaving anything to the imagination of the reader.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Debra,
      Sharing a story can be very exciting. Knowing the balance between telling too much and not enough can be tricky. I wonder if the more stories we write, the more we learn?

  4. Claire

    Great post, Pamela; thorough and didactic. I have a method I use once a story has had its share of revisions following many of the steps described in your post—I record myself reading it then play it back while I follow the printed copy. It’s tantamount to creating my own “audiostory”. It helps in pointing out misplaced punctuation or lack thereof; it helps to home in on dialogue to determine whether it’s credible or not or if there’s too much backstory. It’s also helpful to determine whether you’re doing too much telling instead of showing in your narrative. Overall, I think it helps me tune in better to where the mistakes lie when I’m listening to my own voice while I follow the hardcopy of the manuscript as opposed to reading it out loud paying attention to the possible corrections that must be marked or noted.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Claire,
      Oh, I love your idea! I will try that on my next story. To record me reading the story, and then listen while I read along.
      Thank you for sharing how you edit.

    • Claire

      You’re welcome, Pamela. I’d be interested in knowing if the method worked for you. Please let me know.

  5. Danka Orihel

    Great advice, Pamela.
    It’ll make my editing process more focused and thorough.
    Thank you for this helpful post.


    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Danka Orihel,
      Thank you. I am glad the article is helpful.
      If you get a chance please share some of your writing. I would love to read something you wrote.

    • Danka Orihel

      I wonder if you received my story When the Chestnuts Bloomed .

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Danka.
      I am sorry I didn’t receive it. Please share part of your story here with The Write Practice readers and me. 🙂

  6. frederick schinkel

    You slump in the hard, cold gutter peering up at the sputtering street corner lamp, misted with fog. The old song beats dirge-like in your mind. “Past three o’clock on a cold, frosty morning”. You mumble the next line: “Past three o’clock, good morrow, masters all,” head a metronome moving with the words. Your words slur as, owl-like, dull awareness of meaning filters through. You drag your tail slowly and deliberately along the smooth damp guttering towards the lamp post. You lean over at last to embrace its firmness. You prop yourself against it, relax, drowse off.
    You wake dizzy mouth dry and sour. Your mind replays; “Good Morrow, masters all.” You stiffen. “Good Morrow? I’ll give ’em bloody Good Morrow! Whole bloody lot of ’em! See if I don’t!” You relax and drowse again. Later, the sky now greying, you shake yourself, pull yourself upright against the lamp-post. “You’re a real mate,” you tell it, patting its smooth back. You push yourself away. “Thanks mate,” you murmur nodding in farewell. You hobble back a few paces, your foot painful. You bend down ever so steadily. You pick up the wine bottle and put it to your lips. A few bitter drops only. “Bloody empty!’ you grind out disgusted. “Bloody empty,” you repeat, angry as you pitch it at the lamp-post. Unsteady you stagger from the effort. “Bottles,” you slur, “like most people: full of empty promises!”
    Your head throbs. You move to the fence margin and support yourself as you hobble along, then along shop-fronts. You reach a corner. “To cross or not to cross, that is the question!’ and pause, giddy. “Hell, you might as well cross,” you giggle, “at least you’ll find out whether you’ll be or not be!”
    You stagger across, more upright. There is no traffic, not even the milk-man doing his rounds. All is eerily quiet. You turn right and make your slow, dignified way down the avenue helped occasionally by a friendly fence.
    Mr Jones at Number 33 is coming out his front gate. He waves to you. “Right neighbourly,” you think raising an arm in his direction. Mrs Jones, come to wave him goodbye, scowls shouldering away your “Good morning.” The sun too, refuses to acknowledge you, skulking behind low clouds. “Ah well, what else can you expect?” you think.
    You push open the gate. The cat, wary at the best of times, lets out a painful yowl. A blur of white, it shoots between your legs. You stumble, your foot catching the gate agonizingly. No use trying the front door. It is locked. You go to the shed. It too is locked. There is a split mark where, frustrated, you kicked it last night. You should have known better. You had done too good a repair after it had been broken into last year. The only result of that kick was, by the feel of it, a broken toe.
    You go back to the house and try windows and back door. Waste of time. The old girl was security conscious, all right. She had made it pretty clear she’d be off to her mother’s when you left for your last day of work. “Terminated,” they had said. “It’s the economic downturn.”

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello frederick schinkel,
      Your create a scene where I feel like I am there, your description of the character are vivid.
      For the first half of the story I thought you were talking about an animal, not a person.
      “You drag your tail slowly…”
      Anthropomorphism – where you give human characteristics to an animal.
      Is this part of a longer piece? I am so curious to know what happens to your character. What is the conflict? Is it with his wife? His company?
      Thank you for sharing your writing.

    • frederick schinkel

      Thanks for the reply. I honestly didn’t expect one!

      This was a writing exercise: “using second person include a broken toe, a nervous cat and three o’clock in the morning. 1000 words.”

      After 30 years with THAT company, a wife he thinks has been having an affair and has left him and then his over-night binge to drown his sorrows, I rather think he would drag his well-kicked, drunken tail along the gutter.

      I’m wryly amused you accepted “me” as a singing, wine-swilling dog that can prop himself up against a lamp-post.

      Conflict? His conflict may well be with his situation surely.
      Resolution? After breaking into his own house, he decides on “coffee, toast, shower, shave and sleep in that order” and, pragmatic male, decides, “one good thing in all of this: I can do things now as I see fit. Up the tri-color!”

      And so the ending: “The sun is up, the birds are twittering, the cat is clawing the gauze door waiting to be fed. Just that painful toe is not right.”

      Thanks for your time to comment. Fred.

  7. Pamela Hodges

    Hello TerriblyTerrific,
    Yes, it’s that time. Time to edit.
    I hate this part too. I could live in creative land, and never edit land, or finish land.

    • TerriblyTerrific

      Good ones!!!!! Thank you for understanding.

  8. S.Ramalingam

    “Editing as I go on writing” method, though it may sound strange,is easier for me than what you say.Again,White, one of the eminent writers of US, was never satisfied with his writing and editing.There is an amusing story about him.He used to approach the post master for getting back the envelope that contained his writings that he had already posted.As far as White was concerned editing and rewriting was limitless.So, editing is, as far as I am concerned, what I feel more comfortable to me..

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello S. Ramalingam,
      Of course, the method that is the most comfortable for you is the best one. You are the author, you are in charge.

  9. Shauna Bolton

    I luxuriate under the covers in a slow stretch. No pain. No crazy thoughts, either. I wonder if my Siamese felt like this when she woke up. What a life! I get out of bed. My back doesn’t hurt. Passing the dresser on my way to the bathroom, I see a pink post-it note alongside an empty pill bottle.

    “I’m done. Goodbye.”

    It’s my writing, dated three days ago. The sleeping pills are gone. I sat down on the bed just as a very beautiful woman walked through the outside wall. That gets my attention. I live on the twelfth floor.

    “Good. You’re awake and sitting down. I’m sick and tired of…”

    “Who are you?”

    “Your guardian angel, missie. This is a Come-to-Jesus meeting, and I don’t mean it metaphorically.”

    “Why aren’t you shining?”

    “You expect heavenly glory after that stunt?”

    “But I’m dead…aren’t I?”

    “No, God love you, you’re not. You wrote the check, but the Good Lord, for his own unfathomable reasons, refused to cash it.”


    “Why, indeed! Because you have Something Important to do, and Sweet Jesus won’t let you die until you do it. He’s most emphatic about that. So, let’s not step in front of any trains. I’ll just snatch you out of the way.

    “I can’t kill myself, no matter what?”

    “Praise God! Your comprehension is gratifying. Now, listen up. Your Lord and Savior wants me to deliver this message: ‘Do. What. I. Tell. You.’”

    “But what if I don’t want to? I thought I had free will.”

    “Honey, that account is 500 years overdrawn. Emmanuel can’t wait. He expects daily deposits of obedience from now.”

    “And if I don’t?”

    “You get back all the pain and crazy thoughts, plus a few extras at no charge. Still no dying.”

    “What about after I do Something Important?”

    “Oh, darling! You can kill yourself three times a week if you want. I’ll even suggest a few methods. But Something Important comes first. Got it?”

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi Shauna Bolton,
      Wow, so many layers of writing. Is the Siamese a reference to your cat having nine lives?
      The post it note dated from three days ago, and the woman walking through the wall, are great details. Showing without telling.
      What do you think about the section of dialogue? I love the back and forth talk, but wanted to have a few details about the room. Or something to keep the reader connected to the story.
      I didn’t understand the reference to Emmanuel, or why the account was 500 years overdrawn.
      Like maybe have her holding the pill bottle, or ripping up the post it note, something to put the reader back in the room.
      Is this part of a longer piece? I am so intrigued to know what happens.

    • Shauna Bolton

      No, the nine lives bit wasn’t what I was thinking of at the time, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m going to work that in. I was just thinking about how cats lie around sleeping all day, and she’s just woken up from three days of uninterrupted sleep. It made sense to compare her condition with a constantly napping cat. Emmanuel is another name for the Messiah, who Christians believe was Jesus Christ, as in the Christmas carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” It’s also found in Isaiah, where the prophet says that it means “God with Us.” All of the angel’s names for God are the various ways that people have of talking about Jesus Christ. The metaphor of the check and the account is about the woman living her life without any attention to God or spiritual things, including the purpose of her own life. Her suicide attempt is the last in a long line of bad choices. The angel is telling her that she’s been doing whatever she wants for so long that it would take 500 years for her to make up for it (a little hyperbole on my part). Meanwhile, her “relationship with God” account is empty. The angel is there to tell her that God sent her to do Something Important with her life, and he expects her obedience from now on as the time for doing is near. I hadn’t planned to write a full story; it was just my writing exercise. But, I really like it, and having thought about, I know how it ends, so I’ll keep working on it. As for the room, I was focusing on character and dialogue at the time. After reading your comment, I’ve thought of some ways to bring the room’s description into the scene, so I’ll revise it for that.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi Shauna,
      Thank you for telling me more about your story.

  10. Courtney Edwin Gary

    Ms. Hodges, this piece has got me motivated to drive on to finish my novel. Excellent advice.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Courtney Edwin Gary,
      Oh goody! How exciting. Please come back and let us know when you complete your novel. So we can celebrate with you.

  11. Marion Roach Smith

    Oh, what a joy it is to be quoted here in this marvelous piece. Thank you.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Marion Roach Smith,
      Your writing is the true joy. So happy to share your book and your wisdom with writers.
      You are very welcome.

  12. Robert Ranck

    Thank you , Pamela.

    Clear, straight-forward, and with the why as well as the how clearly set out.

    There are not many short-cuts on the road to excellent stories.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Robert Ranck,
      You are very welcome.
      The only good short cut is the one through the park to get to the ice-cream store quicker.

  13. Anne Peterson

    Great advice Pamela. So informative. And one thing I always do is to read it aloud as you suggested. Especially since I am an auditory learner. I need to hear if it flows. Now I have a question. Did you slip in the cliche about bread to be funny, since you said not to use cliche’s? Just had to ask. Thanks for the post.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Anne,
      Oh, how funny, you are so observant. I thought I was being original with the bread comment. But, you are right it is a cliche.
      Even writers who write about how to edit need to re-read their articles with the editing tips.

  14. Claire !

    great article. I use Natural Reader because it catches every word. If I’ve doubled up a word, such as, the the, the (ha ha) brain overlooks it. It also spits at me sentences with poor syntax. It’s time consuming. Worth it. Right now I use the freebie version and switch the robotic voices from time to time.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Claire!
      Thank you for sharing a program you use. I have never heard of Natural Reader, but it looks like it will be helpful.
      What kind of writing do you like to do?

  15. pacman

    thank for share! I hope you have many useful articles to share with everyone!
    fb login

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello pacman,
      You are very welcome.
      The Write Practice has many contributors, I hope you find the articles helpful.

  16. Danka Orihel

    Hi Pamela, I’ve sent my story to your e-mail last week, as you suggested. Have you receive it?

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Danka Orihel,
      I didn’t receive your email.
      Please share your fifteen minute writing practice here in the comments. Then “The Write Practice” Community can read your stories, and we as a community can encourage you.

  17. Harper Hodges

    Hello Pamela,
    These tips look really helpful. I will refer to this article when I edit my stories.
    All my best,
    Love Harper

  18. Claire !

    Hi Pamela

    Natural Reader is easy to use, love it. I write Christian romance, fiction. I copy and paste it into the reader, then I pull my MS up. The Reader doesn’t read ” ” or if my dialogue is missing punctuation-which is why I watch the MS at the same time. I can stop it, fix the MS, and keep going.


    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Claire,
      Thank you for explaining Natural Reader, I had never heard of it. What a great idea.

  19. RAW

    Thanks Pamela!

    Great work!

    I will have to print this out and pin it to my wall!!!


    R. Allan Worrell

  20. Tom

    Dear Pamela,

    Agreeing with you is easy; your advice is good and your writing is simple and clear. May I add one thought? It is this: adjectives and adverbs, used sparingly, enrich and clarify writing; those who disparage them are mistaken. And, oh, yes; pronouns must reflect gender; to use “them” for “he” or “she” exposes sloppy thinking.


    Tom Bender



  1. Thursday’s Tweets — 03/30/2017 – Dancing on Coals - […] Hodges shares ideas on How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher on The Write […]
  2. Monday Must-Reads [04.03.17] - […] How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher – The Write Practice […]
  3. Ep 164 How to write an award-winning screenplay on your commute. And meet author of 'Secrets of a Beauty Queen' Stephanie Darling. | Australian Writers’ Centre writing courses – Ignite your creativity - […] How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher […]
  4. Creative Resource Links (03.30.17) - bohemianizm - […] How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher (The Write […]
  5. 4 Quick Tips for Short Story Editing - The Write Practice - […] I’ve found part of the trick to keeping my stories tight and emotionally engaging is the editing. If I…
  6. 4 Quick Tips for Short Story Editing | Creative Writing - […] I’ve found part of the trick to keeping my stories tight and emotionally engaging is the editing. If I…
  7. My Worst Fear Is Not The Blank Page – WordSpace - […] the WLB I had just read a blog post about editing reminding me that editing is more than wiping…
  8. Writing Links Round 7/31-8/5 – B. Shaun Smith - […] How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher […]
  9. 3 Keys to Avoid the Rejection Pile | Creative Writing - […] your story for content and for word choice. Editing your work like a New York Times Publisher will help…
  10. How to Revise Your Story Like a Pro - […] first reason why is that we simply don’t want to do it. Revision isn’t nearly as enjoyable as creation,…
  11. Boring Writing: How to Cut the Boring Parts of Your Story - […] classes, I call these scenes “slow start-ups” or “inactive transition scenes.” You can cut them and instantly improve your…
  12. Writing Links Round Up 10/21-10/25 – B. Shaun Smith - […] How to Edit Your Story Like a New York Publisher […]
  13. Short walk #108 – A short walk down a dark street - […] 17-step approach to editing your short story for structure, punctuation, and […]
  14. What Is the Best Grammar Checker? - […] text reader is ideal for editing your own work, as it can be useful to hear your work read…

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