Thursday, February 7, 2013

Editing Lessons

***First of all, since I started writing this post this morning, several other folks have posted SUPREMELY USEFUL treatises on editing. I would like to direct your attention to those posts immediately. These contain IMPORTANT THINGS we should all be doing with our own writing, prior to sending it to CP's, beta readers, and definitely before querying agents or publishers. These are the basics, folks. I hang my head in shame that I've neglected this stuff in the past. But we all learn eventually. We make mistakes before we get it right.

28 Animals Who Have Made A Huge Mistake

I only hope that I FINALLY got it right ENOUGH. That's all I ask.

So, please check out these posts that may be RELEVANT TO YOUR INTERESTS:

By Melinda Dozier, six useful tips for more effective editing.

By Simon P. Clark, about the three distinct types of editing we should all take advantage of before any other eyes are allowed to see our precious word babies. In fact, I'm considering making it required reading for anyone who wants me to CP or beta for them in the future.

You have read and assimilated all that beautiful advice, right? Okay then. Now on to the rest of my story.

Since I finished the draft for Black Sheep last week, I've been going back and doing ALL THE EDITING. ALL OF IT. Not only on my own manuscripts, but on all the betas and CP's I had piling up. I am slowly making my way through it all. Promise.

When I'm in Writing Mode, I tend to spew forth wordgarble, and only worry about converting it into Legible English during editing. Sometimes the wordgarble turns out just fine, but most of the time it's filled with the kinds of things that give me the sorts of shivers that accompany finding slugs in one's slippers.

But I digress.

I am now editing. Again. I finished the three hundred and sixty fifth revision of the first manuscript in the series I'm working on. For the first time in nearly a year, I made some pretty major changes, and continuity became an issue, so I did a read-through before I sent out the new version. What did I find?

Passive voice.

Repeated words.

Verb tense disagreement.

And yes, this is past tense and present tense fighting it out in my brain. It's either laugh or cry, so...

I'm just tired of finding ridiculous errors after this long. Sure, I made changes, wrote new scenes, took out other scenes. Big things. But to find misplaced commas and misspellings at this point? It's...disheartening. But after this most recent Sticky Edit (and you know what that is because you read Simon's post, right?), I feel a lot better about ALL of this.

The truth is, I love finding mistakes. I have to confess, ever time I delete a rogue comma, or remove an overused word, or perhaps zap an entire scene, this now zips through my mind. It's quite satisfying:

But now I'm officially back in edit mode. Wordgarble, consider yourself on notice.


  1. Conquer that ms! I know what you mean about getting satisfaction from each corrected mistake, though if I'm still finding them by draft 3 or 4 I start feeling embarrassed....

    1. Oh! If only it was draft 3 or 4! This is the first novel I've taken seriously enough to query, and even to show to other sentient beings. I now feel like I knew NOTHING when I started writing it. It's been through three major revisions (where plot and pacing was altered significantly), and maybe two dozen smaller revisions. Every time I make changes, there are inevitably more nitpicky mistakes that are simply the result of typing errors, copy/paste snafus, and the like.

      But finishing a revision always makes me feel like Julie Andrews spinning and skipping across the Alps. :D

  2. This is a hint, isn't it? ;) I think it's nigh on impossible to find all of these things yourself, which is where betas and CPs come in handy. Granted, we try to make it as shiny as possible before we send, but still, it happens to everyone. Try not to be discouraged.

  3. A hint for helping me find these things that I'm blind to in my own work, yes! :D

    It's not discouraging at all, either. I find it incredibly reassuring when I get notes from CP's that I can use to improve my writing. It's a priceless gift!

    I would like to take this opportunity to offer infinite lurve and chocolates to all my CP's. :)


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