EDITING EDITING EDITING
Okay. I’ve talked about this subject a few times before, right? More than a few times. Because it’s my web site, I can write what I want, and I have to follow my muse, my muse says, talk about editing again!
This doesn’t come out of a vacuum. Anecdotal incidents drove me to this and I think it’s time to bring it up again, especially for any new readers to my site (and as a reminder to you long-time members).
FOREST THROUGH THE TREES
I think that was even the title of one of my articles a ways back. The other morning, I edited a story by another editor. Why? Because she wrote it. That’s exactly why I took my crack at editing. She wrote it. Forest through the trees.
As an editor myself, I know I can’t see beyond my nose a lot of times, and need that separate set of eyes. Of course, with all the experience behind me, I have better chops and what I initially put down is a lot better than what I used to write. It may take less editing than some people, but it’s far from perfect. That’s why I had no problem finding plenty of flaws in this editor’s own work. It can’t be helped.
There are very few people with the skill to put down a story who can edit it and have it perfect. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but let’s be real folks, most of us aren’t that good. I know I’m not.
PRINT AND READ
I know I should, but I hardly ever print a copy of my chapters and go through them before writer’s group. I edit them on the computer screen. A good example of what happens is the Monday a week ago. When I read it, I had plenty of cringe-worthy moments where I found glaring typos I should’ve caught and would’ve if I’d simply printed a copy and read it first.
WE’RE NOT IN ENGLAND OR CANADA
I still see this all the time from American writers.
Towards instead of toward.
Backwards instead of backward.
At university instead of at the university.
At hospital instead of at the hospital.
We don’t speak the Queen’s English in the good old You Ess And A.
BEGAN TO AND STARTED TO
Two of my major pet peeves, which I’ve harped on, over and over again, came to the forefront with that editor’s story yesterday. Another writer edited that same story. He added a bunch of began to’s into it. I wanted to scream!
With both of those passive phrases, my philosophy is this: Even though they’re part of the English language, they should be used sparingly! In both cases, you either do it or you don’t. Case closed! Don’t be vague!
STARTING A SENTENCE WITH AND AND BUT
As for And, it’s just plain bad English to start a sentence in the middle, and that’s basically what you’re doing with And. That doesn’t always apply with dialogue (where grammar rules are often broken). However, I even use that form of it sparingly. Overuse can be just as bad as using it in narrative which I never use.
As for But, my philosophy is this: Do you walk forward with your ass? Then don’t start a sentence with But! It’s just plain bad English. It looks bad and sounds bad. Dialogue is another story, of course.
I COULD GO ON AND ON
The list goes on and on but I’ve preached this often enough. Lately, I’ve seen those three biggies in amateur writing till I’m blue in the face (okay, now that’s a big cliché). Point being, we all need to edit edit edit.
It never ends, right until that manuscript is taken out of our cold dead hands (to quote Charlton Heston).