Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Writing Tip 9 The Value of Editing

I'm not an Editor nor do I play on on TV. However, as a writer I  see the tremendous value in editing. I highly recommend people hire and develop a close relationship with an Editor. They can do so much to help shape your book and your writing. In my opinion, a good Editor doesn't rewrite your book. They help YOU write it better. Your unique dialog, characters, plot, settings, voice, and narrative are what you are bringing to the table. An Editor helps by getting rid of the "clunkiness" that plops up in all of our writing. You should be catching most spelling errors and some grammar errors with your word processor's spell check and grammar check. An Editor shouldn't have to waste time correcting spelling and grammar errors--at least not the easy to catch things. Of course these tools aren't perfect and another set of eyes are helpful to catch words like "united" that get written as "untied." I made such a boo boo once in a fund raising letter I had written for an organization. I didn't catch it until weeks later after dozens of letters had gone out. Software has its limitations.

Now if you can't afford the services of a human editor, at least invest in a good editing software program. I use Editor by Serenity Software. It's very reasonably priced. It does several overviews of your writing. Yes it's tiring and time consuming, but I love the act of refocusing my eyes on a passage or sentence or word, and discovering I can make it a little better. Believe me, it's no friend of "to be." I'm no paid spokesman for Serenity, but their product works for me. Of course it can't comment on your pacing and "believability" of your character's voices. Other more expensive story editing software might be the best bet. Investigate those. I plan to and make a future blog post on what I find. Now  will share two examples where editing would have made the writing stronger in my opinion. Both examples are opening paragraphs to a writer's novel.

My thoughts are in red.
A good editing software might alert a writer to the above issue in this opening paragraph. When she said “hoisted” up was already assumed. “Pain” was used in the same sentence twice. Perhaps sensation would have been a better choice the second time. “The back of the Suburban held all the treasures…” Just say Suburban. Back of has already been established.  There are many dead words in this short opening that weigh the opening passage down. 

This passage seemed clunky to me. I think the sentence should have begun with that short piece of dialog. “Everyone seemed so happy” sounds lame and lazy. Perhaps better… “Our joy overtook us as we chatted and sang ___________ by Usher”. Or  “Giddy with champagne, we chatted, fell into each other’s arms and sang Usher’s ‘You Remind Me.’ I was off key, but didn’t care...”
 I think my suggestion pulls the reader into the story and gives more life to the characters than the generic "everyone seemed so happy..." that the author used.

As i said before, I'm a Writer, not an Editor. Writing has a lot of power. Editing is the additive that boosts the power of writing.

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