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How to edit your 500 Words story

So you’ve finished your story, but are you sure it’s the best it can be? Editing your first draft can help you to make sure that every line of your story keeps a reader glued to the edge of their seat. Here are my top tips for polishing your story to perfection.

When your story is ready, why not enter it in the BBC’s 500 Words competition?

1. Take a break

Before you begin to edit, leave your story to one side for a while. Go for a bike ride, take a trip to the cinema or just play with your friends. Doing something different will help you look at your story with a fresh pair of eyes when you pick it up again.

2. Plot holes and problems

When you read your story again, first you need to check if everything makes sense. Are there any scenes where characters act in illogical ways, or can you find any loose ends of the plot that you haven’t wrapped up? Whatever plot holes you find, think about ways you can fix these. This might be by adding some dialogue or action that helps the scene make sense.

3. Checklist

As you read, use the following checklist to help you correct any mistakes and let your story shine:

  • Viewpoint and voice: Who is telling your story? Have you written it in the first or third person? Make sure you keep the voice telling the story the same all the way through – unless you’ve got a good reason to change it!
  • Repetition and clichés: Are there any words or phrases that you find you use too many times? Try to avoid clichés such as ‘fit as a fiddle’ or ‘frightened to death’ and instead express these ideas in new and interesting ways.
  • Spelling and punctuation: Have you got your capital letters in the correct places and remembered to punctuate your sentences? Keep an eye out for any spelling mistakes you know you sometimes make and use a dictionary to correct these.

When you’re happy with your finished story, then all you need to do is type it up. Happy editing!

Activity sheet

Story buddies

Still think your story can be improved? Download our BBC 500 Words activity sheet and team up with a friend. Swap stories and see what useful feedback you can give each other.

For more activities and information about the 500 Words competition, visit our BBC 500 Words page.

Download the activity

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