Saturday, 25 April 2015

3 P's of Editing: Presentation, Professionalism, Practice

I tried to sum up my thoughts on editing in three words and I came up with: Present, Professionalism, Practice. I like to list things in threes, which is possibly from an underlying compulsion to have a pattern, but in regards to editing I think it sums it up nicely. And when it comes to the daunting job of editing...anything helps! First, presentation, meaning the look of my work. I find it is important that when I submit work to publishers I not only have my font, spacing, headers, etc in a professional manner, but I also have my grammar and spelling presentable. Nothing sends a shiver down my spine more than finding a large flashing spelling mistake on something I've submitted. In today's age with spell check there's no excuse for it. Even worse is when it's a word I've spelled correctly but used in the wrong context...ugh. I've heard stories of publishers that stop reading when they see terrible grammar and spelling and as much as I'd like to think my story will win them over, if there are obvious mistakes in the beginning they most likely will quit reading. All that hard work getting something ready to submit will be gone. This is like a resume for a dream job - you want to make the best first impression. Nothing is worse than losing out on a technicality. The second is professionalism. If I want to be considered a serious writer, whether I am published or not, than an important aspect of the craft is grammar and spelling. Sure there are a number of other things like pacing, arc, character development, and more, but the simple technicalities of writing are spelling and grammar. Simon is correct, reading my own work out loud has caught a number of mistakes I skim past while reading. I usually use one or two test readers on my work now, and they catch a lot of things, but when I've read through afterward I usually find more. The first time a writer told me he revised a manuscript up to twenty times I was floored. I still struggle with the monotony of it, but make myself do it. I am getting better. The third is practice. If I want to continue on and become a serious writer, editing and revising is something I have to keep trying. It's like anything, the more you do it the better you get. I can tell I've gotten better over the last year, now I not only catch my spelling and grammar mistakes quicker, but I also find other areas to edit: dialogue, show don't tell, etc. I found some of these things nearly impossible to learn, and was advised at a workshop to keep at it. A few months ago something clicked and now editing aspects of writing is starting to make more sense to me. The importance of practice has become a learning tool in its own to make me a better writer and will one day show in my writing that I have moved past the beginner and emerging stages into a more advanced level. When it comes to editing and revising I've learned that there is so much more than just spelling and grammar. As I keep practice and get better at it my writing will only get better. I will always make mistakes, but hopefully they get less and less over time. Melanie

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