Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Even experienced writers need an editor

A few blogs ago, someone left a comment correcting my misuse of a word. The person posted anonymously and commented that they weren't trying to be rude in pointing it out. I welcomed the correction because it just demonstrates that we all need editors, or at least a second pair of eyes to catch the things that we might miss.

I used the word wet instead of whet and this isn’t something that the word processors would necessarily catch because both words were spelled correctly. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your word processor and return to the old fashioned typewriter. In fact, on the news just last night it was revealed that the last factory to make typewriters has shuttered its doors.

No - what this means is that you should consider embracing multiple approaches in vetting your written work. The various word processing software choices available do provide several layers of review - if you will - that allow the writer to self-edit along the way. Tools that check spelling and grammar can be quite useful, or distracting, depending on your writing process. You can even turn these features off and then back on when you’re ready for that layer of editing.

This editing process is not necessarily the same as critiquing. When writers ask someone to read or review their written work, I routinely advise that they should be as specific as possible in their requests. For example, does the writer want the person to catch those unintended misuse of words or does the writer want a reviewer to look at the written work from the perspective of plot, pacing, dialogue, or any of the other structural elements of a novel or non-fiction work.

Beta readers are also available to writers but make sure you vet them just as you would an agent or publisher. Don't know what a beta reader is? Here's a link to one perspective on the topic:



Morgan Mandel said...

It's so easy to type the wrong spelling of a word you know how to spell. Sometimes the fingers move faster than the brain.

That's why it's so important to edit your work carefully, then turn it over to a friend, then last step to a professional editor.

Readers are really good at catching mistakes. No writer wants to seem unprofessional.

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

Great advice, Terri!
DL Larson