Monday, January 21, 2013

Edit is a four letter word.

Edit is a four letter word, and that implies that it may be a bad thing. The reality for authors is that Editing is where you find the really good stuff. (Not too technical, I know, but you get my meaning.)

No one writes the perfect novel the first time through. Even the greats edited, some to extreme (I'm thinking Hemingway here), but the resulting stories were always so much better. One of my writing mentors said that editing is finding gold in the garbage. One of my writing buddies said that editing is making the swirls in icing of the cake. (Don't you just love writers?)

Sometimes it's really hard to figure out when the manuscript is done. We edit and edit and edit some more, then realize that, hey, maybe this would sound better here than there and we start over editing again. At some point you have to say, okay, the cake is done, the icing is pretty and swirly and now it's time to send it out. YIKES! What if it's not good enough? What if I misspelled something? Did I put all my commas in the right places?

That's what our readers are for, guys and gals. Stephen King's wife, Tabitha is his reader and she points out all the things he missed when he edited it himself. (I'm making an assumption here - but I don't think my neck is stretched out too far...) Critique groups are good helpers, and there are even professional editors out there that will help for a fee. If you're like me you do your writing in your spare time, on a very tight budget, so paying an editor is sometimes hard to manage. But if you really want your manuscript to SING, have someone else take a look before you submit. It's worth it!

One parting comment. The bottom line is this, your manuscript is yours and any outsider recommendations should be thought through thoroughly before you make them. You will be editing again by any reputable  publisher, but it's important to send them the best product you can. Enjoy the journey!


Susan Hornbach said...

So true, editing goes on and on. At some point we just have to say, "Tah Dah!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, B.D.,

Editing is such an important part of the writing process. No writer sees his/her work objectively. And two sets of eyes are always better than one. I love good editors!

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jacqueline: This blog came at a time I'm deep; in revisions, trying to spot lack of sequel after a great scene. Really good crit partners are a treasured gift, and even though I've had some great editors when I signed a contract, you still have to get that baby respectable or it'll never reach an editor's desk! So back to the writing--with my slice of chocolate cake to nourish my psyche.

bdtharp said...

I'm still waiting for the "Ta Dah" moment, I'm afraid. Where's my chocolate cake? Maybe that's all I need! Jacqui - you are right, a good editor is worth their weight in gold. Thanks for commenting.

Sharon K. Garner said...

From a copy editor and proofreader's point of view, I have no control over what suggestions my clients accept or reject. I return one file with Track Changes showing and another file with Accept All Changes invoked so the client can see them side by side if they choose.

Most of my clients are planning to self-publish. If I'm sent a signed paper copy, I never read it because I'll make myself crazy over whether a mistake is something I missed, or the client didn't accept that change.

Editing is so important, whether you're submitting to an editor or self-publishing. An error jerks me right out of my Suspension of Disbelief, which I'm deep into while reading.

We all miss things. My hope is that by the time the words hit paper or e-ink, most of them will have been corrected.

Sharon K. Garner

bdtharp said...

You are so right, Sharon. Thanks for commenting.