I am currently recovering from having my wisdom teeth out, so please excuse the filler blog.
In the world of stories, there are some things that need to happen in order to let what you write make it out into the market place. The first part of this is writing something that other people will actually want to read. This is, however, only half the battle. The second half (and in my opinion the harder half) is editing what you have written to make it publishable.
There are indeed some writers out there who can just put pen to page and have whatever comes out sound brilliant and awe inspiring. I personally am very envious of these people because I know that I am not one of them. While I love it, writing is a lot harder for me than it is for some other people. Realizing that you also are not one of these people is the first step to making your own writing better. If you look at what you’ve written and nothing immediately pops out at you as being “wrong” or at the very least “not quite right”, then you probably still have too much of an attachment to your story. It’s perfectly natural for an author to have an attachment to what they’ve written. That’s why after you’ve finished a story, you need to set it aside and go do something else. That way, when you come back to it, you can look at it with fresh eyes. You’re not thinking that it’s your little perfect baby. By putting a little distance between yourself and your story, you can be a much more effective editor.
Knowing the weaknesses of your writing is the next big key to being an effective editor. I know some of my own personal weaknesses are using interjections like “however” and “though”, and putting in extra unnecessary words and phrases. Because I don’t try to limit myself when actually writing (that makes for a choppier story) I know that for every thousand words or so, I’ll be taking out around a hundred. It’s a lot of work (especially for longer stories. I’m not looking forward to editing my books when I get that far), but it is something that needs to be done in order to make the story better. This is a personal weakness of mine, though, and does not necessarily mean that every writer needs to do what I do. My point by telling you this is that you need to become familiar with your own writing. You need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are; you need to be able to tell what you can do to your writing to make it better.
One of the best ways to get to know your writing better is actually to have someone else read it. Have someone who’s writing you consider to be ‘good’ look over your story and give you some pointers as to what you might do to make it better. The point of this is not to make your writing like theirs, but instead to make your writing better. Having someone else read the story is also a good way to find grammatical and spelling errors/typos that you might read over because you know what it’s supposed to say. Having one, two, or more other readers is a good way to find all mistakes.
The road to publishing is a long one. People you submit to do not want to change anything; your writing should be the best it can be when you send it to them, and thus editing is essential.