Editing Yourself

I’m reading books these days by folks who need a better editor. Not naming names, because obviously, the lack of editing doesn’t bother many people. I totally have issues with lack of commas or commas where not needed, wrong tense, and head hopping. I can see it clearly in the books I read. But when I read my own work, the blinders come out.

 

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Seriously, is this a widespread problem for all writers, or is it just me? I have learned that I do need to pay someone whose job it is to edit to look at my stuff. I am so happy with the editor I have and the work she does. She is a blessing in my life.

Possibly I don’t mean editing at all. Possibly I mean proofreading. Because all of my writerly friends edit their own work, by which they mean they look at what they wrote and chop it up then give it to friends to critique and chop it up some more. A day doesn’t go by without someone writing two thousand words and chopping three thousand. Yeah, we’re writers, not mathematicians.

 

Proofreading is going over line by line and looking for misspelled words, misplaced words, punctuation, and proper tense. Story editing is making sure you only have one point of view per scene. Otherwise, head-hopping ensues.

Critique groups are people you trust with the book of your heart. They will give you constructive criticism. They won’t tell you they hate your story because you’re fat. They probably won’t forget your name from one session to the next.

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And now I understand why Acknowledgments are so important in books. Writers do write alone, but the product is polished and perfected with a veritable village. Critique groups, story editors, proofreaders, and line editors. Not to mention formatters and cover artists and many, many others.

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When you think you are finished with your book, it may be time to go over it one last time. Read it backward so that you don’t see what you expect to see. Human eyes play tricks like that. And with all the distractions you might have, you can read it out loud for a final check. That’s when the most glaring of errors show up.

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All in all, there are books, web pages, blogs, and Pinterest links to help you get that book as ready as it will ever be. Just don’t rely on you, alone. Writing isn’t easy, but none of us would be the same without it. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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