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A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A to Z: E is for editing

From a writer's POV. Editing--a hot topic since the advent of self-publishing. First, I think doing whatever it takes to keep from publishing a book with glaring mistakes is of the utmost importance. Your name on that book will be associated with everything about it--from the cover... to the ending. If you put something substandard out there, the reviews will reflect it. You don't want to start out a writing career being associated with a bad book.

That having been said, it's fair to say that not everyone can afford a professional editor. So, can you edit your book yourself? Well, it' not advisable. For the most part, it's nearly impossible to do.

By the time you've written your book, you've likely reread it multiple times. That causes a problem. Your brain will read the words that aren't there--if you've missed putting in a word. You're brain will not register incorrect or clunky syntax.  Missed punctuation marks, or the dreaded free-ranging comma will get right by. Your brain will see what you want it to see. You have essentially become blind to your own writing. It's not uncommon, and it's very real.

In lieu of an editor, at the very least, you should sign on with a crit partner, or a site that is basically a crit exchange. You crit the work of others and they in turn will crit yours. One I've read great things about is Scribophile

Whether you choose to hire an editor or not, there are some things you can do to help get over your blindness to your own work.

The best approach is to try to trick your brain out of stasis and preconcieved ideas of what's written in your story. One way to do this, and I've found it to work amazingly well, is to read your work out loud. You don't have to read it to anyone else, but you do need to speak the words. It gets a different part of the brain involved. Mistakes will jump out at you.

Another good way to trip up the brain is to change appearance of your manuscript. If it's in a doc. file, do a save as PDF or vice-versa. Or, change the font. Change it to bold, enlarge it, or highlight it.

Another time-proven way is to set the manuscript down and leave it alone for a couple of weeks. A couple of months is even better if you can stay away from it that long. It allows the brain time to forget what it thinks is there, word for word. You'll see it with new eyes.

Work on it in small sections. Join a group like (shameless plug here) Weekend Writing Warriorswhere you share 8 sentences at a time. It helps to teach you to be critical of writing--your own and that of others writers. There's a lot of help out there for free. And in the process of reaching out, you'll discover an amazing online writing community willing to generously help others. Weekly sign ups. Free. No long term commitments.

Visit other April Blogging from A to Z Challenge by clicking here.




26 comments:

  1. I had my first experience with editing when the Read for Animals Anthology was being published. Thankfully, my writing was praised, but my (over)use of commas, not so much. LOL It helped a lot to see it from someone else's perspective.
    Debbie @ The Doglady's Den

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    1. Glad you had that experience, Debbie . How did the fundraiser do? A wonderful cause . Thanks for visiting . :-)

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  2. Great ideas! I also get my Kindle to read it to me. It reads exactly what is there and if I follow, I sometimes wonder, why did it read DESCEND when it should have read DECENT. Oops. I pick up a lot of typos this way.

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    1. Wow! I never thought about having the kindle read it to me. what file format do you have to use. so that tts will work? Thanks for visiting . :-)

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  3. One of these days I might be able to afford a professional editor, but meanwhile I like to attack on multiple fronts.

    Self-editing gets me a long way (I'm a pedantic nitpicker), then critique groups, and I have no problems leaving a manuscript aside for months while I work on something else before re-reading again. Now about to do a final proof-read in hard copy, out loud, and in a different font.

    Have I missed anything? :)

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    1. Not that I can think of, Ian. :-) Get that book out! I can hardly wait to read it. :-) Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Timely advice- I'm on the last two chapters of The Novel and the budget is as diminutive as ever- and I know that The End really just means 'of this draft, for now.' Exhausting. But if writing is what you want: you do it! Hope your tribe are thriving- and keeping you smiling: I'll be back :-)

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    1. All so true, Lily! I could recite parts of my book, verbatim. ;-) Tribe is thriving and expanding. :-) Thanks for visiting--and I'll be back to visit you soon, as well. :-)

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  5. Editing is such an important word. We shall not forget it as long as we write.

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    1. So true, Munir, so very true! :-) It's nice to see your words here. Hope all is well with you. :-)

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  6. I happened to come back here and somehow my comment disappeared. SSS was a great help and when I get back to the novel I'll get back to WWW also. Biggest problem is don't have anyone these days to throw around ideas with

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    1. SSS was very helpful to me. I experienced a lot of growth as a writer while posting on SixSunday. The girls really came up with a neat idea. :-)

      It is hard to find a crit partner, or two, or three. I think it's something we're considering at WeWriWa...having a page to list crit requests, crit partner requests, Beta readers, Alpha readers.

      I haven't found your missing comment. :-) But I'm sure glad you left this one. :-) Thanks! :-)

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  7. Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

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  8. that's excellent advice... I noticed the print proof copy helps a lot, and also beta-readers that have a great eye for typos.

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    1. All good things to add, EE. :-) Thank you! :-)

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  9. I find reading my work aloud helps tremendously when I'm editing. I also have a friend with a keen eye.

    Good looking blog. I'm also an A-Z Challenge participant.

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    1. Thank goodness for the friend with a keen eye. Thanks for visiting, Stephen! :-)

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  10. Nice tips and crit partner makes sense to me since I am not able to edit my own work, be it the blog or otherwise. Lovely pointers.

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  11. Here from A-Z Blogging. Good tips on editing as that can make or break a book.

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  12. Nice post. Editing my own stuff is SO HARD! If I'm not careful, I can get caught in a loop of reading and changing things over & over & over & over...I'm definitely going to look into your Weekend Writing Warriors group after the A to Z Challenge is over!

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    1. Haha! I can relate. Reminds me of that Oscar Wilde quote:
      “I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.”

      ― Oscar Wilde

      Thanks for visiting, Grazona! :-)

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  13. I was away from my first Russian historical and a number of other books for a good 10 years because they were held hostage on obsolete file formats on disks! When I finally figured out how to open, convert, and reformat them (with my trusty external disk drive), it was like reading them for the first time all over again. Having a decade away from a book is the ultimate in perspective and having objective eyes to edit with.

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    1. :-) I love it! This is the best example ever of how effective it is to step away from a ms. :-) Thanks, Carrie-Anne!

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