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Monday, May 12, 2014

Editing: A Crucial Piece to the Creative Process

How many times must I suffer through a slew of One Star reviews of my fellow Indie Authors? And almost all of these single star snarks end with something like this: "this book could have used an editor, or even a proofreader. So many spelling, punctuation, grammar and tense errors. It turned what could have been a good story into a terrible attempt at literature."

First off, in defense of my indie friends, I have seen such reviews on pieces of lit that did have editors. John Green (the author of The Fault in Our Stars) talks about opening up a copy of his very own novel and discovering a typo. Unbelievably it was in the Author's Notes section. My editor, Rob Bignell, told me one day he could pick up almost any book in any given bookstore and find an error somewhere. So just be aware, there's errors out there. Lots and lots of them for all to enjoy.

I myself have since discovered two or three errors in my first novel (WWIV - In The Beginning) – after it was already published in Amazon Kindle format. Hey, we all make mistakes. Let the first among you who have messed up there, their, they're cast the first exclamation mark!

If you want to create something, have it look as professional as possible, and have the public take you seriously then you need an editor. Which type do you need? Well, that's a good question. As far as I know, there are four basic types of editing that you can have done.

  1. Developmental - This is where an editor helps you develop your ideas.
  2. Substantive - Identifying and solving issues with flow, POV, pace.
  3. Copy or Line Editing - Going through a manuscript line by line, identifying all types of fun issues
  4. Proofreading - A last run through hoping to find any unidentified problems and making sure the story makes sense.
I've over generalized above. All of you editors out there can hold your hate mail for a minute longer. 

The point is this: No one sits down and writes the perfect manuscript. No One! Got it?

I'm pretty good at getting the story down on paper. I'm also good at correcting grammar, spelling, and POV issues in one of my three self-edits/rewrites. The thing that nags my skill is the last few fine details. I need someone to point out my tics, my repetitions, my occasional misuse of a word, and my ugly habit of starting too many sentences with the word "It". That's where my editor comes in handy. He, my editor, also acts as my first proofreader as well.

After I get through the substantial list that Rob sends me back, my manuscript still isn't ready for publishing. It (see - what is "it"?) needs several more sets of eyes for anything that both Rob and I may have missed. Trust me, Rob is thorough. But even he is human and misses small things here and there.

Here's a classic mistake I made; and Rob didn't miss this one. I created it after editing and before proofreaders. The sentence went something like this: "Brit was holding onto to dear life..." See the error? of course you do, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Originally I had written "on to". I realized on one of my many read throughs that I meant to say "onto". So, I added "to" to the "on" and went along my merry way. All the while forgetting to delete the second "to" in that sentence. 

Trust me – we all need editors. No matter what purpose they will serve, they are needed. I could probably use one for my twice weekly blogs, right?

(NOTE - I did not go back and edit this posting after I finished. This is just one go through only fixing obvious spelling errors. How many gramatical and word errors can you find?)

Have funa nd enjoy your weak;