Thursday, October 22, 2009

Editing It Right! by DL Larson

Revising a manuscript takes effort, untold hours, some productive with some not so, and it may feel like a wrestling match before the words work in high performance. The key is to concentrate on one thing at a time. If characterization is a problem, work on that, don't try to fix the setting at the same time. Multi-tasking may work in small doses, but zeroing in on one particular hot spot will make your work more consistent, stronger, and thereby a better read.

Keep notes. While I'm fixing one problem, I may stumble upon a little ugly nest of something else. I don't take the time to fix it then, I go back after I complete my task at hand. I use a hard copy when I edit. I write with red ink, things like: need more description, tighten dialogue, fix grammar, change POV, find a new word, etc. It may be old school, but it works for me.

Then, when I think it's the best I can make it, I wonder, what am I not seeing? I'm sure there's something really obvious, but I've become oblivious to it. Fretting kicks in and I know it's time for professional help. I've a few people who will willingly read my WIP and suggest changes and I appreciate all their help. We find each other's quirky little habits. I edited a friend's WIP awhile ago and found she was fond of "it was" and "There was..." She's a great writer, but it had turned into a habit of inserting those nasty little no nothing, say nothing phrases. It was merely her engine revving, a push off to get the words flowing, fine in a WIP, dangerous in a finished manuscript. She found a few of mine too! I tend to cling to certain words and they are like bullet holes riddled into the pages of my manuscript. Bad habit for sure - telling myself I will find a better word later, just let me get this on the page first. But ... once the word was on the page, it became oblivious to me! I didn't see the over, over-use of the word.

I opted for a professional editing of my manuscript, Promises My Love. I was at that point, what am I missing? What have I messed up this time? I don't want to be the author folks say, "why didn't someone tell her to fix that?" That being the hot spot I didn't see! I contacted Helen Ginger to edit my work. Boy, am I glad I did. She found the hot spots, some I simply shook my head, thinking, there I go again, will I ever learn? Others were not so obvious, some technical, and I realize I have not yet mastered my computer and all its wizards. I've somehow managed to create a mess with page breaks. Don't ask me how, I don't have a clue and only hope I can turn off whatever I turned on. Paging tends to elude me as well, but I am not easily defeated. I will persevere!

The end result of all my editing will be a better book. One my readers will enjoy and not be thrown out of the story because of some flaw that should have been fixed during revision time. Professional editing is an investment, much like your computer, paper, books for learning, etc. Up front expenses are a part of being a writer. Don't be afraid to take this final step in making your work the best it can be.

Do you have a technique for editing? Share with us, and feel free to tell us about any nasty habit you've found in your writing. It can be our little secret. We won't tell a soul. :)

Til Next Time ~

DL Larson


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Editing is so important. I've had my last one professionally edited before sending it off too. And yes, the only way I can find anything is to print a hard copy.

Deb Larson said...

For me it saves on my eyes and I know exactly where I'm at and where I need to be tomorrow!
thanks for sharing!
DL Larson

Terry Odell said...

I did a whole series on editing on my blog over the past couple of weeks. There are different kinds of edits; this round was dealing with the changes you get from your editor AFTER the book is sold. And this week, I've been reading galleys. My suggestion for that kind of read is to start at the back of the book, so you don't 'notice' the plot and can focus on typos and formatting.