Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ah the joys of editing...

Here's another legacy post from my Goodreads blog.

Self-editing is risky business, but for someone like me who writes for a hobby with a limited budget, it might be a good option. Here are a few things I do to make it work. 
Of course, your best bet is to get some extra eyes on the job.  Fellow writers and avid readers in bookclubs on are valuable resources. 

January 16, 2013

Today I hit the 70% complete mark for editing my third novel, a story about surviving the end of the world (via zombies) told through a young woman’s diary entries. So, I thought I'd take a break from editing to write about editing. Say that fast three times in a row.

Yes, I edit my own stories. And, yes, it is challenging to do that. Here's why.

First of all, I know what's coming. That can be a good thing when you’re writing a story but not always so good when you’re trying to edit one, because your mind will subconsciously fill in the blanks, leaving holes in your story that will trip up your readers. That's why I usually put my work aside for at least a few weeks before I attempt to edit it.

Second, I tend to think the way that I write, leaving eerily similar phrases with sometimes nearly identical word choices sprinkled throughout my stories, like little landmines waiting to annoy my readers. And guess what, I sometimes find myself unintentionally updating something that was originally unique into one of these landmines. Yikes. The only way I’ve found to counteract this is to edit with a pencil before making changes to my document. This ensures I’ll look at each passage at least twice before I make a final call on how something’s worded.

Third, you can do a lot of damage to your work if you’re tired or if you’ve been at it too long. I only work on edits and rewrites when I’m fresh. As soon as my eyes cross (and preferably before then) I put away the paper and pencil and do something else.

Fourth, the enemy of any self-editor is impatience. Editing is tedious work, time-consuming and at times mind-numbing. At times, I find myself saying, ‘eh, that’s good enough,’ but usually, that’s just before my eyes start crossing. Other times, I’ll switch to prompts like ‘look at this again’, ‘rewrite’ or the vague circled phrase. And in some cases, those last few pages or passages will be suspiciously bereft of comments and corrections. Whenever I see any of these signs, I make a point to go over those sections again with a fresh eye.

Finally, it’s easy to forget that your writing must not only be correct, but also entertaining. I find it incredibly important to read my stories from beginning to end in the same way my readers will: on an e-reader and as a paperback. After all, if my stories can’t keep my attention, they certainly won’t capture anyone else’s.

On that note, I’m off to work on my other project, a loom knitted sock that’s turning into a loom knitted boot. Ah well, maybe I’ll turn it into a Christmas stocking.
Published on January 16, 2013 19:48Tags: editing, tips, writing