First, an apology to regular readers for the lack of posts this week. There are a number of issues I want to talk about, but none of them lend themselves to short, pithy notes, and I’ve been finding myself short of available hours. It hasn’t helped that my ISP, Verizon, has seen fit to block access to my own website for five, seven, even ten hours at a stretch. I’m now hopeful, however, that my good and programmatically apologetic friends on the other side of the world have taken my issue to heart and escalated it to a level commensurate with actual customer service.
In other news, the mad sound of hammering you hear behind the curtain is indeed a sign of progress. I have some fiction I hope to be able to put up soon, provided I can navigate all the business and technological hurdles required to do so.
In the meantime, if you’re not interested in the annual Hands-Down Best Weekend of Professional Football (TM) that is today and tomorrow, I offer the following links. Reading them will make you smarter, and on Monday you won’t feel as if you participated in the exploitation of others by validating the physical and psychological damage inherent in the National Football League.
- Top ten tips for editing your own book
True story. Last week I put up at twit* asking for links to good, basic advice about editing fiction. I’d run across a tip somewhere a while back suggesting a text search for the word ‘just’, which gets overused, and sure enough, when I did that on my manuscript I was more than a little chagrined. (There are extenuating circumstances, but it still gave me pause.) Proving the potency and value of Twitter as a communications medium, not one single person responded with a link. The next day, however, a series of links about editing showed up, of which this is one, and the remainder follow.
As to this link, I’m very much interested in reading any advice about editing, and in learning about people who are providing editing services. For my money, if you have trouble editing your own work, tip #6 in this post is worth its weight in gold. It’s the single most useful thing I think any writer can do when they are tangling with a sentence or paragraph that otherwise refuses to submit to authorial will.
Having said that, I’m not sure this is the way you want to start an article that touts your editing services:
Editing your own book can be a stressful and for many writers, a frankly daunting task. At BubbleCow we help writers tackle the problem of editing their own work on a daily basis.
* I’m not going to use ‘tweet’ anymore. The service is called Twitter, and it’s not my fault that the logical descriptors for using Twitter include twitting and twit. I tried tweet for a while but it’s marketing fraud and my brain knows it. (These are the things you should think about before you launch your franchise.)
- Some Different Self-Editing Rules For Writers
After you’ve done a little editing here and there you’ll discover something truly horrifying: much of editing is more art than science, and more judgment than law. I think there are some good points in this post, but I also have to disagree with the following as a categorical rule:
I had a line that started, “Without thinking, she stopped and called out.” Well, if she didn’t think, why say it? The sentence is now, simply, “She stopped and called out.” Tells the reader the exact same thing without bogging anything down.
I can’t speak to the context of the example because it wasn’t provided, but I trust the author’s judgment. The problem with making it a universal rule, however, is that I can imagine a character embodying the difference between the two versions. I can imagine it being material information — and, I might add, I don’t think it bogs anything down. (Cutting for the sake of brevity is not editing. It’s cutting. Like cutting a lawn.)
Whether I’m right or now, that’s a good example of the murk of editing, and why writers should arm themselves with as much knowledge and experience as possible.
- The Eyes of Editing
This is what you need to know in a nutshell. I’ve read it three times myself.
- Friday Forum: Editing Theory
A very nice post that walks you into the subject of editing and never lets go of your hand. Plenty of outbound links to follow, and a useful reminder that editing doesn’t exist apart from the writing process.
Editing is always happening: the goal is to control it so you get the end result you’re looking for. And that cuts both ways. Sloppy writers need to gain more control; perfectionists need to relax and trust the rewriting process.)
Oddly enough, after reading through those posts I became totally stoked about editing. (It can be laborious at times, which is why I forget that I love it.) In fact, I’m jazzed enough that I’m going to throw some notes together for my own blog post on editing, the writing of which which will inevitably take up more time than I have, and only serve to haunt me until I’ve through.
In the meantime, feel free to drop good editing links in the comments. (Note: in order to cut down on comment spam, my site will hold your post for moderation if it includes two links or more. If you want to include multiple links about editing please do so, and I will approve the post as soon as possible.)
— Mark Barrett
For a great way to edit line by line without getting bogged down by the story, Bite Size Edits is AMAZING. Except that I’m finding that I’m doing a LOT of showing instead of telling which is making the process SLOW.
But it has saved my sanity. I’d never get things edited in a word processor. My brain doesn’t work that way.
Thanks for dropping by and for pointing me to that site. It’s interesting, and I can see the value for proofreading. However, as your comment suggests, there may be a danger in editing for content without context. You may be adding more because a sentence seems flat or weak out of sequence, yet that sentence might be perfectly worded and paced for its placement.
(You could easily test this by going through the BSE editing process on a short piece — even a paragraph or two — then putting it back together and comparing it with the original.
For others, here’s a link to Bite Size Edits, which explains what they do:
Hugh McGuire says
Hey Mark, I’d love to get your feedback on Bite-Size – after playing around with it a bit. I’ve found it’s most useful for tightening flabby sentences, rather than adding more. But that’s me. Very interested to hear your feedback….