Friday, June 3, 2011

EDITING IS NO FUN



When I first started writing I didn’t know what the heck I was doing when it came to editing. Over the years I figured out what my bad habits are and the ways to trick myself into picking away the junk out of my work and making it shine enough to pass on to an editor that can further shape it up.

But here’s what I’ve learned about it overall.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A WRITER – YOU NEED TO LEARN TO EDIT

I had to take a refresher course on editing. Sure, many writers think they don’t have to learn to edit. That they don’t need to spend extra time figuring out how to clean up their work – THAT’s WRONG. If you take writing seriously – EDITING is a big part of it.


There are books you can read, but taking a class always helps. Also, editing other people’s work is a sure fire way to learn. Lastly, make a list of your personal writing bad habits while you are studying your books on editing and keep that list as you review your own work.


Like with any career, you have to train yourself to be successful and most well written authors are pretty darn good at editing. I should know, because many of them have ripped my early drafts apart, lol!

WHY SHOULD A WRITER LEARN TO EDIT – DOESN’T THE PUBLISHER RE-EDIT WORK ANYWAY?

Whoa! I can’t tell you how many newbie writers have said that to me in the last few years. With the publishing industry being so competitive your stuff needs to be near publish ready before you start submitting it to agents or publishers directly. Yes, once you get an agent/publisher they will edit it further, but it’s much better for them to start with something that’s already in good shape.

SOME WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR EDITING

Read books on self-editing

Beta read and edit other author’s work

Let your stuff sit for a spell before you jump in with edits

Create an editing checklist for yourself of your bad habits that you need to look for in your document

Use a few editing help tools like autocrit.com which is free

Take a class

ALWAYS REALIZE THAT EDITING IS SUBJECTIVE, skill is different with each person and even the best editors still make mistakes. So try your best to get it as perfect as you can get your work on your own.

8 comments:

Crystal Collier said...

One of the best ways I learned to edit was in an advanced creative writing class where we exchanged 3 to 5 page stories with at least 3 other people once a week. Now days that would be impossible, but virtually I found a forum that's pretty much the same thing. If you write fantasy, sci-fi or horror critters.org is a MUST.

Kelly Hashway said...

Editing other people's work really helps you learn to edit your own. I couldn't agree more.

Sarah said...

I've learned so much by beta-reading others' stuff, and have cut out a lot of my own bad habits as a result (of course, I still have several others!). I totally agree that it's crucual for any writer to be able to refine her/his own work through editing.

Stacey Donaldson said...

This is a great post. I must admit that I am not great at editing and could certainly use some pointers. I hadn't even considered getting a book on editing before now - thanks for the advice! It is definitely not something you just know how to do, no matter how much writing you've done.

Carolyn Arnold said...

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Pk Hrezo said...

Such a great point, LM. I learn so much about editing by critiquing others. Even tho it's time consuming, it helps so much and I look at my work with new eyes. I study lots of editing guides and altho, I've never taken an actual course, I can say there's so much to be learned just from the awesome blogs out there that post work for review.

Dawn Brazil said...

These are great tips LM. I think what has helped me the most is a conference, working with my CP, and creating a checklist of things to do during my edits. Thanks for sharing your list.

Nicole Rivera said...

OK, I need book recommendations! Who has them? What are your favorite books on self-editing?