It's during the editing phase that you start to realize that you're a lot wordier than you thought. At least that's been my experience. And you, too, can do most of it without any help.
- You can catch your overwriting and redundancies ["Hey, Grandma," I said to Grandma as I walked in the house.]
- You can change those overly descriptive writing handles [she screamed angrily] into ones publishers will accept like said, shouted, asked, or whispered.
- You can dump all amplifiers after you realize they amplify nothing [really hated doesn't convey nearly as much as loathed or even just hated all by itself.]
- You can ferret out those pesky adjectives [beautiful woman] and turn them into vivid nouns [goddess].
- Above all, you can hunt down those clunky adverbial phrases [stared stupidly] and swap them for strong verbs [gaped].
Basically, you can take your gut draft, the draft you wrote just for you, straight from your heart, and turn it into something another human being will actually want to read. You can change it from written vomit into a compelling story.
It helps to distance yourself from your writing, so you see it with newer eyes. I went over an old short story recently I thought was so wonderful and found about half of it was filler. It also helps to print out your writing because then you see it from another angle. You can go at it with a pen. It really helps to read it out loud to yourself, as well, because then you slow down your reading pace and see so many things you didn't see before. You can also use the software's built-in spell/grammar check.
But there comes a moment when you realize you can do no more. You need external eyes, someone outside your head, to which you can send it or read it. That's when writers' groups online or in person come into play. I've written about those recently. That's when you can call in an editor like I did recently. That's also when you can look into buying software like Grammerly or Autocrit, which help you do a lot of the things I've mentioned. Most of editing can be done alone. But almost everyone eventually needs help. You are not alone. If you're done with your heart draft [the rough draft], it's time to write the rest with your head. It's time to tighten that writing.