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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Editor Eats Humble Pie

So, as I’ve announced on Twitter, I’ve been away from the Twitterverse as well as the Blogosphere for the last few weeks. Why? I had to take time off from the social media and editing gigs to fully focus on editing my own book. That’s right. I’m not only an editor; I’m a writer. Since I began to apply the last edit/polish to my book, I became humbled by the experience, so to speak. Alas...I was not perfect. And I think you guys might enjoy it, especially if you’ve been at the receiving end of my #stabbylove critique of your books. Here goes.
I’ve never claimed that I was a perfect writer, though I think I’m better than some. The fact is even an editor needs help when it comes to their own work because no one can do it on their own. The only advantage an editor has is the ability to self-edit, which eliminates the need for beta readers. However, we do need alpha readers to read our stories and give us the general view of the plot, pacing, and character development issues. Also, it helps to have a proofreader at the end.  
Let me tell you how I edit. After I’ve completed a draft, I print it out. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but it does bear repeating. Things are a lot different when it is on paper. Trust me. This is where I take my red pen and mark it up. Add, delete, revise, rewrite, etc. Sometimes, I end up deleting as much as a few chapters or a character. Subplots can be added at this stage. When I’m done turning the pages into a bloody mess, I move over to my Mac and apply those changes to my MS. Repeat this until it’s fully edited. (Don’t forget to check for word repetition at the final edit.) While some may need to repeat this 20 times, some of us can get away with just a few. Know thy self. 
The last part is proofreading. I let my Adobe Read Aloud program read my MS back to me while I have my MS opened as doc. so I can pause to apply changes right away. To me, this is the most important finishing touch that no writer should go without. There’s a clear distinction between spoken words and written words. Our brains have a different way of perceiving the same words depending on how they are delivered. Again, trust me. This is what we editors mean by fluidity. The words must have a natural flow. By doing this, you’ll spot missing words, incorrect use of words (ex: to instead of too), and awkward dialogue. We always say, one way to distinguish a bad book from a good one is to read it out loud. 
Oh, the fun part. Yes, I’ve spotted so many mistakes. I spelled bizarre with bazaar because I let the autocorrect finish off words in a hurry. I also found that I used the word “so” and “really” over 120 times each. Another thing that I spotted was my dialogue tags. Due to my well-known hatred of dialogue tags that end with adverb (“ly” words), I limited myself to using only action tags. I ended up breaking a lot of dialogue with some kind of action sequence. In general, it’s good to “show,” but  it’s okay to tell sometimes. Balance is the key. 
In the end, I ate several humble pies and stabbed my MS into shape. I’m about 2 days away from being done, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I’m extremely excited and hopeful about the query process. I have my fingers crossed. Well, I’m off. I’ll return to blogging next week as I promised. I was told to cover “passive” voice in writing by a tweep. I think that’s what I will cover in my next post. Good luck with your book~ 

Here's my editor website. Where I don't make mistakes. Because it's not my own work… 

12 comments:

  1. Stupid blogspot eating my comment.

    Ahem. What I wanted to say was that in sharing your own experiences, you've really provided a great procedure for anyone who is working on finishing off a manuscript to follow. Thanks!

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  2. I soooooo know what you mean... Editing is a tedious process but so necessary. And I make exactly the same mistakes as you and many others.

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  3. I wish you tons of luck with your completed MS!

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  4. Congrats on getting that finished! Of course you must know that since you didn't use the "Super Tool" your MS is not quite as perfect as it could be. :P

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  5. You know, Su. Humble pie is pretty sweet if eaten before you publish. A second set of unbiased eyes is something I consider one of the most important parts of preparing a manuscript- even for an editor.

    I'm sure your book is going to be great and I'm looking forward to a good read! I wish you much success

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  6. Thanks, Su, for another inspiring and informative post! I'm dusting off my printer today, for sure.

    All the best for your book! Ahhh... feel free to share your query, or your thoughts on the process... :)

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  7. Editing is extremely difficult. Even the Big Six mess it up. I don't know how many errors I found in George R.R. Martin's latest book "A Dance With Dragons" but it was at least a page full.

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  8. Thanks all for commenting. Editing is the necessary evil. It must be done. Otherwise, you can't say your book is "completed."

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  9. I am rolling up my sleeves ready for the titanic struggle over The Passive Voice. Can't wait...

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  10. Good pointers, esp. using Adobe RA or some other text-to-voice app. Now I understand what you mean by dialog tags (ex.):

    "He yelled to her," nervously.

    What do you mean by "query process" ?

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  11. Excellent post. I discovered that my writing looked different on paper too, and went through an HP printer during the writing and editing of my book. I apologize for wasted paper, but I'm otherwise, very good at looking after the environment. I also learned that I had to get away from distractions or else, I would have never finished. Keep up the good work, Sirra.

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  12. I'm enjoying your tips very much. I just hope I can put them into practice.Thank you.

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