What comes to your mind when you think of editing? Aside from the defensive comebacks, “Well, who do you think you are? Where’s your bestseller?”
How important is editing to a writer?
Editing is as important to a writer as writing. In all honesty. If a publisher or agent sees a flawed manuscript, chances are it will be trashed. Yes, publishers do have their own editing teams. However, they want manuscripts which don’t need much editing attention.
Writing The Novel Is Only Half The Work.
Even if you never have the slightest intentions on becoming an editor in the future, it is imperative that you learn the tricks of the trade. It seems like a chore much of the time, but the editing can be as exciting as the creation. You must approach the task with enthusiasm, this is your reputation and your career.
If you want to create different scenes for experimentation, you can do that. It’s all in your power and easily done. Hit the, “Select All,” function and then Copy. Open up four or five clean files and paste you novel to each new space. Then, just let it fly. Experiment with scenes, characters. This is the best time to use the, “what if,” mentality. Make your characters dramatic, insane, comedic – it’s all in your hands. You can add scenes, remove scenes, add and remove events, put details in which weren’t there before.
If you enjoy having power over your material, you will grow to adore editing. Imagine it’s your new E-book, by a complete stranger. Look at any flaws, grammatical or other. Now, assume the position, “I have all the power to change anything I want to. To make it any way I want to. I don’t have to worry about permission nor rights. I can make the dramatic scenes comedic, I can make the happy times turbulent. It’s all in my power.”
How can you handle this? It hurts, to say the least. After you work so hard to create a manuscript you consider a masterpiece, how can you possibly accept someone pointing out any flaws?
Sadly, critiquing is a necessity. It’s something we need, even though it hurts. It pushes us to go farther, to learn more. It drives us to create works we never dreamed possible. Bad times develop our hearts, just as critiquing develops our writing.
What Do I Need?
There are millions of editing tools out there. Books, software, web sites, book doctors, critiquing groups, clubs, organizations, so on and so forth. Yet, what a writer needs to learn editing is simple. Not to mention, economic.
1) Visit web sites devoted to editing. Take notes. Learn what editing is, why it’s done and how it’s done.
2) Print or Email your manuscript to a good friend or relative. Make sure this relative or friend will speak with you honestly, without worry of hurting your feelings. Surprisingly, many writers rely on the judgments of their parents and siblings to find mistakes and inconsistencies. Who better to point out your mistakes than you own parent?
3) If you must hire a book doctor or editor, research them thoroughly. Get references, follow up on their abilities. Speak with them often before you submit anything. This is an area that’s filled with scam artists. Make sure their rates are reasonable and you will have a good finished product.
Laura Wright is the author of While I’m Dying and is a freelance writer/photographer for The Business Journal.