I’ve talked about this before, but I think the subject of editing deserves going into with a bit more detail. I’d like discuss some different ways to approach your own editing process.
There may still be a few of you who are writing manually. Do you put pen to paper? Do you still have an old typewriter? Or, might you be a real against-the-grain type person and have a Dictaphone? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Since you are reading this, more than likely, like me, you use a computer to do your writing. In doing so, when you get something completed, you also edit it on the computer screen. Am I right?
If you have taken my advice, sought out a writer’s group and brought materials to read, you would have had to print those materials. However, how many of you have actually printed a preliminary copy and read it first? I have a confession to make. I never used to do that. I would do all of my editing on the computer until it was “perfect.” Then I would print copies, bring them to a meeting blind, then pass out my beautiful masterpiece only to have everyone “dash my hopes and dreams, show me what an amateur I really am!” Of course, I exaggerate, but you get my point.
A little editing trick I’ve known for years, but don’t practice nearly enough, is to always print out your work first and read it! I’m not kidding. Seeing it on a computer screen is a lot different than seeing it in print. You will sometimes be shocked at the simple and sometimes not so simple mistakes that will slap you in the face when you read it in a different format. It really works.
I just finished editing Chapter 52 of The Factory for our Monday evening meeting. I went through my usual editing on screen and thought I’d caught everything. This time I decided to print it out. Wow! I was amazed at how many things I caught just by looking at it in print. It made a world of difference.
Another editing trick that really works is to read it aloud. Many times as I’m reading my stuff to the group, I’ll notice flaws. I’ll stumble over words, phrases, or notice something that just doesn’t work. It looked good when I wrote it, but as I read it, it doesn’t fly. You don’t have to read it to anyone else, just read it to the wall, your dawg, the cat. You may be surprised at what you’ll find.
A funny thing. After printing, reading and editing my Chapter 52, I reprinted it and the copies, took it to the meeting. When I read it aloud, to my chagrin (now there’s a fancy word), I discovered that when I’d edited the mistakes I found on the last print, I created new mistakes! I never read a copy of the “edited” version, I just trusted that I did it right. In one instance, I left off the end of a sentence. Geez! Until next time…