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EDITING

November 30, 2011

            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…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2011 3:49 am

    Great advise, Fred. Why does it look so good on the monitor screen and not as good on paper? It’s a mystery to me, but I know it’s true.

    • December 1, 2011 2:42 am

      Carol,

      Couldn’t agree more! It makes all the difference in the world.

      You rock!

      Fred

  2. November 30, 2011 4:33 am

    Good article Fred. When I began reading my children’s stories to many schools I stumbled while reading them, even though I thought they were “perfect.” That’s when I began reading them out loud or read them to my wife after “printing” them out. The whole secret is the stories have to flow, come out naturally. Before I recorded all thirty eight of my stories for my CD, “Felix the Storyteller,” I spent hours practicing them and actually made changes after we had already edited them more then once. The whole process took me a year. I turned out a good product that I still have to promote and sell. A book marketing wholesaler had his two children and his wife who is a sixth grade teacher read many of them before he accepted my product. He now has it. Thanks again Fred, I wish I had one eighth of your knowledge.

    • December 1, 2011 2:45 am

      Felix,

      Thanks so much! You brought up another good point. Having someone else read it back to you, or to others will also bring out flaws that you didn’t see. Some of our writers do that as well.

      Keep the comments coming. You’ve written some pretty great books yourself, Felix!

      Fred

  3. December 1, 2011 2:53 am

    Thanks Fred.

    Felix

  4. Ann Marquez permalink
    December 6, 2011 6:58 pm

    LOL! I’m constantly making new mistakes when I edit. A common problem these days. We need to sit back and at least read the entire sentence after making corrections.

    I miss hearing everyone read. Back when I used to bring my writing to the meetings, I didn’t worry too much about having the editing perfected. I always asked the group for comments on substance, not editing because I knew that the editor(s) I hired would take care of that on the final draft. Overall, I think it’s kind of pointless until you’re finished, but that’s me.

    • December 7, 2011 2:50 am

      Annie,

      Great to hear from you! As for editing, I’m happy to take it all. I want the big picture, but appreciate the little stuff also. I usually get a mixture of both when I read. Lately, Jo has told everyone to put an emphasis on more big picture than the little stuff, especially if we’re pressed for time. I think it all balances out.

      Fred

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