Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Tumbling Terms ~ Edit

The word for today as it pertains to writers is edit.
verb (used with object)
1. to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.); serve as editor of; direct the editorial policies of.
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange (materials) for publication.
3. to revise or correct, as a manuscript.
4. to expunge; eliminate (often followed by out  ): The author has edited out all references to his own family.
5. to add (usually followed by in  ).

Of course the definition above except for #1 all pertain to writing.  But #1 deals with what an outside editor other than the author.

Many writers will read through their work on average of twenty times before saying it is ready for someone else's eyes. Actually when you think about it when was the last time you read a whole book that many times not including your own. You haven't? Neither have I. Usually a dozen times over decades works for me, even if it is my favorite thing in the whole wide world.

Isn't it strange as writers we read the same thing over and over again. Revising, rewriting, editing multiple times and still can't get it right in our mind? We will cross out entire sections and chapters with big Xs. We will ball it up into little wads of paper and throw it in trashcan after slaving for hours, weeks, and months because mentally it isn't right.

Who are we to judge? The author that's who. As a child, every Easter we got a brand new dress, shoes, little lacy socks, a white purses, gloves, and a hat to wear to church. Our mothers wanted us to shine in front of the others in the congregation. Isn't that what we do with our manuscripts? We want to show off our babies to the world looking their best? Of course we do.

We moaned and groan during the process of editing, making sure every word is exactly what we mean. Every sentence is formed correctly with the right punctuation. Every Paragraph and dialog segment is perfect. Every page (roughly 250 words) ends with a reason for the reader to turn the page to read more. This is exactly what every how-to writing book says to do it and they can't all be wrong can they?

Yes and no. If you follow one of those writing books to the letter, you may still never be published. You are giving that author authority over you and how you write. It kills creative thinking. By all means use the information as a guideline, but do your own thing. That's the fresh or new voice which every agent and publisher is looking for.

Does that mean you should submit something unedited? NO! Don't even try it. You won't be laughed out of the office but your manuscript will be thrown in the nearest waste can.

But you don't have to do it alone either. Your job while writing is writing. Get it down on paper or your computer. I'll correct spelling errors as I go. As for editing, I'll fill in bits and change bits after I finish the chapter. If something needs to change I'll wait until after I get the first ten chapters written for a major overhaul. That way I'll only read through a section (10 chapters ) twice. By the second read through, I know where my story is going next so I don't get stumped after editing. I'll continue on with the next ten chapters and only read those chapters twice and continue this until the book is finished.

I'll print it out and stick it a drawer for at least a week. After that time and I've have a chance to forget a bit. I'll pull out the pages. Read them aloud to an audience...usually my husband or children. Whenever I reach a stumbling point, out comes the red pen and I'll make a mark, but continue reading. If my audience has a puzzled look on their face and a question in their eyes, I'll make another mark and so on until I reach a stopping point usually the end of a chapter. We'll have a open discussion for fifteen minutes while I continue to scribble notes. Then, its on to the next chapter repeated until the end.

I'll go back through my notes and edit again. After that it's off to the critique group for further analysis. The extra pairs of eyes. The corrections are made once the book has been completely reviewed.

Then finally, it will go out to my beta readers for yet another extra set of eyes. This one is for overall content and impressions.

If it ain't perfect, its pretty darn close. I'll do yet another total read through. For the last time. By this time months have passed since I wrote the first "The End," so I can read it with fresh eyes. I kiss my baby goodbye and it is off to the publishers.

With a sigh of relief, I start writing the next one.

Any questions on the Madness Method of Editing?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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