Leave the Editing to the Pro’s

Editing is an art.

An art that I have yet to master because I am a free flowing, off the mast writer. I shun structure unless it is keeping the snow off my back or harboring me from lions, tigers, and bears…oh my…uhm. My job is tell a story in a fun, interesting way that keeps the reader amused, grabs their attention, and filled of twist and turns. It is not my job to thoroughly edit every punctuation mark. I am too busy writing to see the errors of my ways so I leave that to the pros. That is what we writers pay them to do.

Now, with that said, a writer should know the basics…I mean come on. Even I can tell when there is a break in sentence flow, sometimes, but not all the time. I write fast. I move from one story to the next with all the grace of Curly falling down a flight of stairs. My writing style, as I stated before, is free flowing. I write off the cuff and seldom if ever use an outline, which may come to a surprise if you read Fly Paper Soup. I used a chart to keep track of the murders and the antagonists.

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Many writers I know use outlines and understand the rules of engagement. They write extraordinary stories. In no way am I taking away from their efforts. I am saying that I cannot write like that.

Now for my editing style. I punch out two thousand words or more and then I sit back and have a cup of coffee, walk the dog, eat a donut—anything to take my mind off what I just wrote. After about fifteen minutes or so, I will read it aloud. I find miss-spelled words or word usage errors, I find missing words, (like I said I write fast and do not realize I did not type a “to” or something like that). Then I move on to something else. The next day I will re-read it again and find more mistakes or decide to rewrite the whole thing. That is the extent of my editing.

Why? Well it is not because I am perfect. It is not because I am a grammar wizard, and it certainly is not because I am a writing master. Like Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I do not know all the rules to writing nor do I want to know them. I want to write unencumbered by rules and regulations that may inhibit my ability to put forth an entertaining piece. Besides, all the noise in my head makes it hard to find a rule for this or that. I write, that is what I do.

When I’m finished writing I hand off my manuscript to my beta’s, proofreaders, and editor with my chest inflated—my eyes beaming with pride. Then they hand it back dripping in red ink and my ego deflates. Humble becomes my middle name. That is their job. That is what they do.  Next, Book Covers.

Stop your complaining…and get busy writing

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Words From The Floor

So, you don’t think you are a writer because an editor said your writing sucks. Well, maybe it does, but that does not mean you are not a writer .

Editing is a treasured art only appreciated by writers. If an average editor is worth his/her weight in gold, then a good one is worth twice that and a great one is worth your first born child.

As an artist paints, sketches, molds, chisels, or snaps a shot, an editor meticulously reads each word, examines every punctuation mark, assures the story flows, and the characters remain true to themselves. It is not easy to do.

My recent book, Fly Paper Soup went through seven betas and each one found something worth correcting. Now, let us make something clear, a Beta reader reads for substance, for flow, and their job is to tell the author if the story works. Did it move them, did it capture their attention, was it interesting, or did it drag on, no spark, and cause the reader to jump off a bridge. After they dried off, they may find flaws in word usage, grammar, or any number of things. Your perfect work is not so perfect.

An editor digs, grinds, examines your story from top to bottom and then does it all over again. They are brutally honest and should be. If you have an editor that hands out lollipops and sprinkles everything with sugar, get rid of them.

You want your book top rated.

You want your book to compete.

You want your book in the hands of readers all over the world.

You want to make money…I hope.

If so, then stop being so timid. Write with passion. Write with zeal. Drive those pros and splash those cons. Have no fear. Read your work over and over again aloud, have others read it as you write. Take criticism constructively, even if presented with harsh and cruel honesty. The only way to grow as a writer is to know your faults and correct them. Then write, write, and write. Then write some more. When your betas deliver the news, be open to rewrites or changes they suggest.

Now when the editor delivers your manuscript back and it is dripping in red ink do not be discouraged. Examine the edits. Learn. Grow. Ask questions but never throw the manuscript away thinking you are a lousy writer. Make the chances. Accept your humanity. Swallow that pride.

You are a writer, first and for most. You write…that is what you do. Edit the best you can and move on…NEXT. Leave the real editing to the pros.