Sunday, April 6, 2014

E: Editing



 


This month, Saturdays are time to talk about writing!  And since today is the letter E. . . let's talk about EDITING, even though that's sort of starting at the wrong end. Hey, I didn't invent the alphabet.

Since I've been in editing mode a lot lately, I've thought about it a lot (mostly while trying to avoid actually doing it).  So here are my three main things you need to know about editing.

1.  Revision, rewriting, editing and proof-reading are all different things and every piece of writing needs them all (to a greater or lesser degree).  Re-vision: to see again.  Really big-picture changes.  Re-write: make the changes, big and small, that make the text read well.  Edit: clean up all the awkwardness and excess adverbs and little words you love to overuse.  Proof-reading is what you do the last thing before you submit the MS, to catch every typo.

1a.  Why can't you do your own proof-reading, even if (like me) you are pretty good at it and can proof someone else's MS to near-perfection?  I knew the answer to this and went ahead and did it anyway, just to prove the point.  Two reasons: first, you are too familiar with the text.  You've read it 20 times, and you will see what you expect to see.  And second, the author will always want to tinker.  Tinkering introduces new errors.  I've uploaded a corrected version of Death By Ice Cream, after a friend found far too many errors (not awful ones, but more than I want and enough to make me a bit embarrassed).   So, again: do not attempt to be your own proof-reader!

2.  If you haven't read your book aloud, you haven't finished editing.

3.  No one is good enough to do all that alone.  Hire, bribe, or barter for a big-picture edit and a proof-reader.  Your readers will thank you.  Note: if this is a term paper we are talking about, it has to be your own work, but there's nothing to stop you bouncing ideas off friends, and proof-reading exchanges with classmates are completely legit. As is asking your mother to proof-read, if she'll do it (and if she spells better than you do).

And that's my word on editing.  Many of us love the rough-draft composition stage, and dread the editing phase of writing.  But after publishing three novels I can say: it gets easier. The feeling of taking an amorphous blob of text and molding (or beating) it into a well-formed piece of readable prose can be as great a high as the initial pouring forth of the idea.


###

Now, enter the drawing to win an e-book of Death By Ice Cream-with the errors removed, thanks to (you guessed it) an external proof-reader.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

8 comments:

  1. My father once informed me that he'd made changes to an essay I'd written. I then had to spend more than an hour taking out every mistake he'd made.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh! Though that's still better than spending an hour removing the errors you've introduced yourself!

      Delete
  2. I used to hate editing, but I like it more with each book now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been growing on me, too. I've definitely come to enjoy the feeling of making the story work, as well as the feeling of making the prose good.

      Delete
  3. I think my editing is improving the more flash fiction I write :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's an interesting point. Flash Fiction does force us to consider every word, and trim the story to essentials. Though there are times when the pruning has made for less of a story than there might be.

      Delete
  4. Oh editing, yes, yes. Imagine editing a book you wrote 14 years ago! I re-released a story into the modern age of self-publishing. Why you wonder? Well I still sell the first edition, so its a good story, but oh my---my writing has improved since then. :) So edit is what I did all winter, and two beta readers, and more edits between, then another beta and more edits. And several run throughs looking for different things. It's tedious but it's a step that needs great care to save public embarrassment!
    History Sleuth's Writings - Blogging A-Z

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My new release--Death By Ice Cream--was a revival of an MS that had been sitting in a drawer (metaphorically speaking; in fact in languished on the hard drive) for more than 5 years. It was actually easier to edit in one sense, because I was well removed from it. But, like you, I found it a LOT of work, because I have come a ways since then!

      Delete

We want to hear from you! Tell us your reactions, or whatever's on your mind.