Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Editing - First Impressions Count!

Why do we edit? Is it simply to check spelling and grammar, or are we thinking ahead to how our work will look to others? As writers, we need to present our work in the best possible fashion, whether we are trying to get past the gatekeepers at publishing companies, or self-publish. 

We can make the decision to edit our own work (which I do), or we can choose to hire out the editing. (If we are working with a publisher, we will probably do a quick edit before sending our manuscript, but the final editing will be done by the publishing company.) Editing does check for spelling and grammar errors,  but it also checks for continuity of thought in your work. 

Tools that we need to do a good editing job include the spell check build into whatever word processing program we are using, a copy of The Chicago Manuel of Style, a copy of the Associated Press Stylebook, a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Your initial editing will be done digitally. Then it pays to print out your work, preferrably single spaced, and edit line by line manually. By doing this you will pick up errors that flew by you in the digital copy. You might want to edit and print at least twice. To save paper, take the copy from the first print editing and use the backside to print the second print editing.  

Watch for the small things, like not italicising internal dialogue in a book. Look for words that are showing up repetitively. Look for words that are redundant. How much of your writing is in the passive tense? Your readers will soon be bored if there is no action going on!

Remember that you are the author - in the editing process you can change your mind about a whole lot of things in your story. Just be sure to make a list of these changes,  that you can make sure that your story stays consistent. 

From time to time, I am at a loss for a word, or phrase. (I call these senior moments!) I will put in a "placer" word or phrase, knowing that eventually I will remember the word (or phrase) that I wanted to say. In editing, make sure that these places words/phrases are actually replaced with the correct word/phrase! That would be one huge, embarrassing mistake! 

It is also a good idea to check for overuse of things like exclamation points (I am guilty of this), and ellipses (I a guilty of this too!). 

These are all things that I do when editing my work. Other people may do things differently. We are all working towards a common goal - writing that looks professional, and reads smoothly!

(c) January 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.    

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