So a lot of you have already sent us stories for Just Write, and I'm really excited about reading them, but maybe there's a few of you out there who haven't sent us your story just yet, maybe you think you want to make it a little bit better first. Learning to edit your stories is something that takes time and experience. Sometimes you feel like something's the matter with your story, but you can't quite figure out what it is. For our last Teen Writer's toolkit I thought I'd give you some tips on how to get started editing:
1. Make sure your story is all typed out and double-spaced (that will give you lots of room to write comments to yourself). Print it out and get a pen or a pencil to edit with.
2. Read the story over carefully. Something people often have troubles with is describing characters or places so they really jump off the page. Will your reader be able to picture the setting of your story? What about your character? When you're describing things you want to pick unusual details that people might not have thought of right away. When people describe a character they might say "he was old", or "she had red hair." Can we picture that person? Not really. What if instead we said "wrinkles were etched across his face," or "she had spirals of crimson hair." Don't those descriptions sound a bit stronger? See if you can find some places where your descriptions need more unique details.
3. Read it out loud. Sometimes a story sounds good in your head, but when you read out loud it's like you hear it completely differently. Sometimes you might stumble over a sentence, or read something and think it sounds kind of weird. Those are the places you probably need to go back and fix. Trust your gut. This can be good for dialogue too. Writing realistic dialogue can be tricky. The best way to improve is just to listen to how random stangers around you talk (yes, I'm giving you permission to eavesdrop on people, but try not to be too obvious about it). Observing people and all of the little unique details about them will help you a lot when it comes to making your characters more realistic.
Hopefully that gives you a few ideas for how to polish up that story you're just about ready to send. Remember, the deadline is on the 25th, so you only have a few more days left!