A Writer’s Responsibility #WickedWednesday (@KaceyHammell)

Wednesdays

Good morning everyone! Happy Hump Day. Sorry I have been MIA the last couple of weeks. Life for me has changed this past month and I’m learning my way through balancing everything. Thank you to the other Quillers for their patience and understanding. Balancing so much has reminded me how valuable writing time is. I’m not the only writer to work outside the home, and actually have three jobs – writer, mother, and a full time day job – and for the first time since I began writing, I think I value the moments of solitude even more. And time with my characters has become golden. In many ways, I took the hours I could be writing for granted a bit because I had so much time before. I’ve learned a lesson here, and I take advantage of every five minutes I can get words down.

But in all the chaos recently, I finished my latest book. It is now fully done and self-edits were brutal. I wasn’t completely happy with it when I was done it before. Thanks to critique partners, I forged my way through the figuring out what was wrong and thoroughly revised many aspects from the original. Which leads me to today’s topic – being a vicious editor. No one else can write your stories for you and we have all said how important edits are. There are still many writers out there cutting corners and releasing stories that are not up to snuff. To each their own, but it is our responsibility to produce stories that shine.

With my last few books, I have used “Pro Writing Aid” program. It’s a godsend for me. It checks over everything from repetition words/phrases to dictation, run-on sentences, grammar, checks transitions, dialogue tags, abstract words, and more. It heavily searches through a manuscript and notes everything that needs to go. There are few things that I don’t change. I don’t want to change the voice in my stories, but I make the decisions on what I change. Nothing is written in stone. But I’ve found it a very useful tool.

I’ve mentioned my “cheat sheet” of bad habits in the past, words I use often – then, it, damn – and it is so important to thoroughly edit out those terrible habits. Readers don’t want to be repeating words over in their heads either. We’d lose readers that way. I can’t stress enough how important going back through your MS is before sending it to a publisher or self-pubbing it yourself. Be your fiercest advocate. Even if it takes you a month to do edits, then let it. Don’t publish crap that isn’t worthy. It’s that simple. Why spend a month or two, or more, on a story that you end up doing an injustice to if it’s not edited properly.

Not all writers are editors. We aren’t. However, it’s a writer’s job to also know about how to edit a story. Common story structure, grammar, to see errors, etc., is part of our job. The edits begin with the writer before sending / hiring another editor if self-publishing, and other publishers demand clean manuscripts. It’s that simple. The writer has all the responsibilities outside of simply writing the story. Too many writers are not taking this part of their job seriously and it saddens me.

It is such a disservice to your characters and stories.

A quick checklist that I tend to use when editing, even without Pro Writing Aid, which I tend to look closely for…

  1. Omit unnecessary words – then, that, it, and, overuse of the characters’ names.
  2. Redundancies – avoiding the use of ‘shrugged his shoulders’ (there’s nothing else to shrug!). ‘She nodded her head’ (there’s nothing else on us that we nod!!)
  3. NO Head Hopping!! So important. Stay in one character POV for an entire scene. If you do switch to the 2nd POV (after a few pages of one character), then make the transition easy and smooth.
  4. Limit the number of ‘ly’ words.
  5. Don’t over explain. Example – ‘Doris was angry and pounded the counter.’ I would edit this sentence to – ‘Doris pounded the counter.’ Plain and simple. We read the anger in her actions.

These are a few items on my checklist that I am mindful of with every read through / edit. They’re simple but oh-so-crucial!!  The more stories a writer creates and the more editing they do – on their own and with a professional editor when the time comes – the more their voice will shine and the better writer they will be.

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing. Happy Editing!

Kacey xoxo

 


 

Cheat Sheet of Bad Habits #WickedWednesday @KaceyHammell

Wednesdays

Good morning all. Happy Wednesday. I hope you’ve had a great week. I’ve spent most of the time writing bits and pieces to my new shifter story and working on edits for a finished piece that I am 90% happy with. Some further tweaking to do. And leads me to today’s post. Editing and my list of things – my cheat sheet – like bad habits I tend to have in my first draft. A lot of writers would say to nix them, don’t put them in your first draft, but for me the first draft is about getting the story out of my head and onto paper/into the computer. Then I return to it and fix my bad habits. So I put together a short list of the items (polished up and explained) I look out for and always improve, change, polish before submitting it. Again, this is my process and reminders that help me improve the quality of each story.

  • Commas: the comma is the most common punctuation mark and the most misused. It’s a tricky one because the rules are lax by many, leaving usage up to style guides and writers’ judgment. In weaker writing, there are too few or too many commas. Be consistent in when using commas and find the right balance.
  • Adjectives vs. adverbs: People don’t run quick; they run quickly. The word quick is an adjective; quickly is an adverb.
  • Homophones: homophones can be difficult because spell check won’t catch them examples of homophones – they’re/there/their. Complement/compliment,
  • Subject-verb agreement: The subject of a sentence needs to match the verb. Example of a common mistake: He have two lizards. The verb have does not go with the subject she. It should be He has two lizards.
  • Verb tense: The topic of tense warrants an article of its own (or maybe an entire book). There are multiple tenses beyond past, present, and future, and they are worth knowing. Be especially careful of mixing up simple past tense (We talked for hours) and past perfect tense (We had talked all night).
  • Verb tense consistency: A sentence that was originally in perfect past tense is changed to simple past tense, but one of the words in the sentence is overlooked, and you end up with something like He went to the store and had shopped for pasta. 
  • Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve: many writers seem to think the “ve” in these words means “of.” But it’s short for “have.” These words are contractions for “should have,” “could have,” and “would have,” respectively — NOT “should of,” “could of,” or “would of.”
  • Repetitious words – many writers have “crutch” words they use over and over in their stories. Mine are – then, it, that, and, just, damn. I go through the story many times to omit the usages of these that are not necessary.
  • Consistency is key: grammar rules don’t cover everything. As a writer, you will constantly be challenged to make sensible decisions about how to construct your sentences and paragraphs. Always be consistent.

The consistency for me is very important. And it’s why I keep my own style guide on file. It is a tremendous help and I learn and grow from it. It also, usually, makes it easier for my editor if I’ve done the majority of the work myself. Which is also quite important. It’s the writer’s job to handle the worse of the issues within their writing before a publisher/acquisitions editor ever lays eyes on it.

Writers should never solely rely on their editors to do what the writer can do themselves.

 

And let’s not forget, since it’s Hump Day, our Hump Day Hottie this week. Who doesn’t love David Gandy? Enjoy *g*

 

Until next week,

Happy Writing!

Kacey xoxo

(pic source: Pinterest)

 


 

Confused much? #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Hello one and all, welcome to another #SensualSunday post. Another week lies ahead of us, and who knows what it might bring. Maybe new ideas, or a plot twist, or even a solution to that section in your latest WIP that’s been driving you insane. One never knows but if you keep your eyes and ears open you never know what you may find.

Today’s post is all about genre choice. Seems simple enough. But I’ve run across some books that have left me feeling dazed and highly confused about their genre.

As any author knows our characters are our guiding forces. They tell us what we need to know to form the story they have to share. To an author they are living, breathing beings and while they don’t have any real form to them, the story they are contained in gives them shape.

Now, determining who these characters are, where they are from, what they do, believe in, and so forth helps an author to figure out what the genre of the book will be. I’m not talking about what genres your publisher (if you use one) might list it under, but your core genre. For instance, Paranormal or Sci-Fi. Everything outside of that, like romance, BDSM, etc. is icing on the cake. But an author needs to know, going in, what their genre is to be.

Could it change part way through? Sure, but if it does that means the previously written portions need to be altered/updated to fit. You can’t have half a book being one genre and the rest something else entirely. It’s like writing a werewolf story that suddenly because a zombie horror but there was never any mention of zombies! This is also where reader confusion kicks in. If a reader doesn’t feel like they have just read a cohesive work, they are going to say something. Usually nothing very flattering.

Time for an example. One book I read a while back was decidedly a paranormal romance. Clear as day. No question about it. Then I hit roughly the two-thirds mark and everything changed. Took on a fantasy, almost sci-fi feel to it. Threw me for one hell of a loop. Had me questioning all I’d previously read. Was it so subtle that I missed the clues the author had potentially dropped? Sadly, no. I finished the book, let it digest, and then went back to read it again a couple days later. I knew the ending, knew all this additional information, but it still was reading as a para-romance for over the first half of the book. No hint (and I was reading word for word slowly) of the shift in dynamics/situation to come. It was almost as if the author had run out of material and smooshed in some extra stuff they’d had on the side to get their word count up. After the second reading I was even more confused by the story, and while the characters had remained (for the most part) the same through it all, that sudden jolt to a whole new tale part way through rattled me.

Now, as an author myself I can’t post reviews on sites under my author name. Not that I apparently needed to. Between the time I’d bought the book, and then got around to reading it, there had been several reviews left about it. All had more or less the same core theme to them – what the hell had they just read? And ratings that reflected this overall thought. All of which dragged the book down through the ranks because folks were shying away from it.

Was it a good read? Yup, right up to that point where everything began to change, and not for the better. If the author had written these two genres as separate books they’d likely have had raving reviews from the readers. But smashing them into one just made one hell of a mess. Running out of material for a story is absolutely no excuse to do this. Stories are only as long as they need to be. Not determined by us authors, but by our characters.

So let’s be clear here. Pick your genre based on what your characters are feeding you. If, and it can happen, the characters lead you in a new direction like my example above then go back to the beginning and fix it. Keep your story one cohesive piece that is melded in perfection. Any editor worth their salt would catch you making this mistake, but for those who don’t have one at their disposal for whatever reason, take care. At the very least use a beta reader to ensure what you have to publish is a tight work that reflects on you in the best light.

XO Moira Callahan

Edit or Regret It! #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

saturday

Good morning everyone! Kacey here again. Happy Saturday! I hope your week was amazing and easy. Hectic schedule here but overall, not too shabby of a week. I even had time to get some writing in, which is a blessing, and daily words have increased my WIP nicely.

In one capacity or another I’ve worked with publishers for over a decade. Many roles, many responsibilities and have a decent amount of insight to various practices that each publisher adheres to. With that knowledge, and discussions with other author friends, I’ve come to know which areas need the most author attention with every release.

The short answer of course, is everything. All details must be maintained and all authors should pay attention to every single minute detail. Editing is one that is the biggest *must* for all releases. The top important thing that has to be given every amount of attention and many passes should be given to every MS. Most authors go through 2-3 rounds of edits. I know there are some that only get 1, and that’s fine and dandy, but I personally think all manuscripts have to have at least 2 rounds of edits, then a thorough Line Edit done by the author.

This is my routine anyway. And I am aware that many publishers do have proofreaders/line editors, HOWEVER, I am a firm believer that it is my duty and responsibility to give every story the quality of my time to make it the best ever. Some publishers SAY they have proofers/line editors, but in my experience I have found for some publishers that isn’t always correct. So after completing edits, some places do NOT send it off to any other individuals for their fresh eyes and to perfect the nitpicks that slip through. Editors and authors are human, we all make mistakes and things slip through the cracks.

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But as I said, I feel it falls more at my feet than anywhere to ensure a story shines. After 2 rounds of edits, I have even asked for a 3rd if there is something I am still struggling with, I do my own line edits. I trust my publishers, but I would rather do everything on my end, without having to rely on anyone else. I will clear all comments/track changes from the MS and make a PDF copy of that “final” copy from the last round of edits. I’ll load that PDF onto my tablet and go through every single sentence – checking punctuation, consistencies, plot points and flow – everything that an author is responsible for with his/her story. Whether it is a 5k story or a 90k story, every sentence is scrutinized and polished. And believe it or not, though I have spent hours in front of my desktop working on 2-3 rounds of edits, I find that I see mistakes a lot clearer if I don’t have the pressure of editor notes and seeing anything other than a clean copy. Reading it as if I am seeing it for the first time, going in with that mentality, helps so much. I’ve even come away with 7-8 pages of errors to fix after the line edit. It can take a while, but like with anything someone has pride in, the MS starts with me. The editing and polish of each story has to be done, and start with me. That quote “the buck stops here”, is how I see things when it comes to my stories and what process they must go through. As much as I love my publisher(s), I believe that I must take matters into my own hands in case something falls through on their end. I’m sure it doesn’t happen but “better safe than sorry”. Besides, an author should never expect their editors to make the stories shine, doing all the work for the author. No way.

Trust your publishers, of course. But always remember that you – the author – are the director of your own story and business.

What final product do you wish to have in the readers’ hands?

 

Until next week,

Happy writing! xo

Kacey (2)

Draft it up #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you to another edition of #SensualSunday. Today we’re going to take things back to the beginning, to set the record straight, and to get you new authors out of your heads for a while. Because it be dangerous up in there.

As every writer, no matter what you’re writing, knows that first spillage of words onto the page is your Draft copy. What too many people forget is, it’s your Draft people! It doesn’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to remember every single rule to writing during this time, you don’t have to mind your P’s & Q’s. Just write for the love of all that’s good in the universe, write! That’s why it’s called, you got it, a Draft.

Put everything down on the page as it comes to you, who the fuck cares if it makes sense, write it down. You have your muse leaping about from point to point, place to place, character to character, who cares, write it down. The sky is pink, orange, green and then blue, who cares, write it down. Are you getting the gist of this now or do I need to go on?

Your first Draft is just that, a Draft. It is not the finished product, it is not what’s going to be published, it is a starting point. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s why after you complete your Draft you then get into Editing. Moving shit around, ensuring everything has proper flow and your characters aren’t hanging from the ceiling fan when they were just in the Draft Final Tablet Means Writing Rewriting And Editingkitchen making an omelet, or there’s suddenly six extra arms along with other body parts in your sex scene.

Yes, there are authors out there who are the Type A personalities who need to keep everything 100% correct throughout the entire book. But I’ll share a secret with you – EVEN THEY CAN FUCK IT UP. Yup, even those authors who have everything planned from A to Z, who know what is going where when, and have been writing longer than their publishing house has been in existence still fuck it up. We’re human. Shit happens. Like them, you too will learn to deal with it. Don’t stress about it.

Write what you have to say down and worry about the particulars later. It’s why every author edits their work before submission, and EVERY author worth their salt has at least one professional editor (ie: someone that’s not spent the last X amount of days going over and over and over the same work) to give it a read through, and provide notes and fixes. Do you think Stephen King or Nora Roberts don’t have editors? Go ahead, ask them, I’ll wait. That’s right, they too have someone from the outside read through their works to look for the things our brains skip over because we, the author, knows how it SHOULD appear. The human brain is a tricky beast and can correct things (word placement, spelling, meaning) without realizing it’s actually doing it on something we’ve read a few dozen or hundred times.

So stop panicking that it’s not perfect, no one’s first Draft is EVER perfect. It’s the starting point, not the end all, be all. Write from the heart and let the brain worry about the fixes later. Just write already!

XO Moira Callahan

silhouettes heads of the bride and groom in darkness

Things to avoid #SensualSunday @AuthorMoira

Sensual-Sunday

Moira here welcoming you back to another #SensualSunday. As Kacey mentioned yesterday it is bloody cold here in Canada right now, some parts more than others. To say I’m a fair weather individual is a serious understatement. I really do not like air that makes my face hurt!

But that isn’t what today’s post is about. Although I have much to say on the topic, it’s not really about writing is it? LOL! No, today I want to discuss the use of brand names, etc in writing. Or rather the fact you should avoid doing it.

copyright symbol iconMost publishers will not allow you to use brand names, names of songs, song lyrics, search engine names, etc in your stories. Now there are a few exceptions to this rule, but you still have to be very careful about how and when to use them. I think that authors with publishers are pretty lucky, the editors who work for them and with us keep us in line when something slips past us. They have house guidelines they follow to help ensure no author for that publisher gets in trouble for putting something into a story they shouldn’t have.

How you ask can you get in trouble for using a registered, trademarked, and copyrighted name? And there is your answer right there. It’s COPYRIGHTED. Again, there are a select few exceptions to this, and it’s mostly everyday items like iPods, Google, and such but even then – they need to be used sparingly and with care. Avoid naming songs, and using song lyrics wherever possible. You can easily do this by turning it into a reference. For example, if your story’s character is dancing around singing (I’ll stick with the season here) Drummer Boy, and pa-rum-pum-pum-pumming around the house, keep the reference to upbeat Christmas music. Maybe make reference to drumming along with it if you feel the need to Drummer Dollbe more specific. Songwriters are particularly gun-shy, with good reason, anyone remember Napster?

While the odds are low that anyone would decide to sue you for copyright infringement (the use of works protected by copyright law without permission) I’ve always felt it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Because I couldn’t afford to be sued by some big corporation, could you? Doubtful since they could quite literally keep things tied up in a courtroom, and thus any lawyer you hired, for years if they so felt the need. That is money draining from you on a constant basis. Money you could otherwise be using to pay your mortgage, fix that weird noise in your car, get a new dishwasher with, or buy something you’ve always wanted but had to wait for.

There’s one other matter you absolutely must consider, your brand. If you are sued what do you think that does to your brand, your good name, and your readers mindset toward you and your other works. So the best idea is, be careful, think it through, and if you are ever in doubt – ASK THE QUESTION. Whether it is to your publisher, to your fellow authors, or your lawyer, be proactive and be safer than sorry.

XO Moira Callahan

Sexy man with unbuttoned shirt

Making use of file 13: Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author

Welcome back to another installment of Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth. I’ll be your host. Michelle Roth. 😉

So, Raven’s post yesterday got me thinking about editing, and the sting that I always feel when I’ve gotta delete large chunks of dialog or an entire scene. Sometimes.. it happens. She’s totally right. The words may be amazing, but if they don’t work in the story, ultimately, you’ve gotta shear them away. Clarity, brevity, and general cohesiveness are key in telling the story you’re meant to tell.

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It’s important to recognize, though, that what doesn’t work in this book may work in another one. I have a few different files I keep with fun phrases I’ve cut, paragraphs I’ve deleted, or entire scenes that just didn’t suit my current WIP. These files have inspired two separate books for me.

Hell, one of them is the book I won an Evernight Readers’ Choice Award for. That smokin’ hot sex scene? I originally wrote that for a contemporary book that I released with another publisher. That come to jesus moment at the end of my second vampire book? Completely inspired by something I cut out of one of my first novels.

My point is… you can repurpose some of the things you cut, or you can let them inspire you to find the words you need for another project. I’m not suggesting that it’s a good idea to cannibalize your own work (or god forbid you plagiarize yourself) but… there’s ultimately meaning and value in every single thing that you’re putting on the page. The trick is just figuring out what that is.

More food for thought. Until next week, I bid you farewell.

XOXOX,

Michelle

It All Begins with the First Draft… #SatisfactionSaturday (@KaceyHammell)

saturday

firstdraftshouldsuck
Kacey here, and good morning all. Happy September! Can you believe how fast this year has gone by already?? It’s crazy. It’s like blink and the day is over. Kids are back to school (here in my area) this coming Tuesday. I’m back and forth with the feelings however. I love having my kids’ home all the time. I’ve never been one to be excited to see them leave every morning, but I do enjoy watching them experience new things and grow up to be young and interesting people.

But that’s not really what I am here to discuss. I promise. No Mommy woes any further. Today, I want to share about when writing that “never ending” story. There are times, like with my current WIP that seem to go on forever. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it can be overwhelming and / or concerning (for some). Outlining stories on paper is a great idea. I know many authors who use chapter boards, post-it notes of a variety of colors and pages and pages of outlines. (Psst: John Grisham usually does about 50 pages of outlines, following them to the letter). Whenever I do an outline it is a brief one about that of course has the conflicts, beginning, middle, end as I see it at the time. But my twists and turns for a story don’t usually come to me until I’m actually writing the story, and sometimes things in my outline change. Surprises can be great, makes things so exciting, but sometimes it can be a downfall for some authors.

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And cause the author to have one of those “will this frickin’ book ever end!!??” shrieks that can be heard from one end of the house to the other. I’m in that now with my WIP but I’m still happy that the story is being written. Things are more complex than I thought, and what I am writing is key to the story. My writing motto is usually – don’t stifle the writing. Write until the story is done and don’t hold back – and I am still following that but I did think I’d be done this already!! LOL Just a double-edged sword really. We writers are slaves to the words. *g*

The best thing for any author to do is sit in that chair, have the tea/coffee pot beside you and write that first draft as if there are no limitations, no one you have to answer to in that stage of things, and enjoy it. Once that first draft is done however, the real work (in my mind) begins. Self-edits. The slashing and slaying of the overused words, the run-on sentences, the time to fix the moments where your leading lady has red hair in one scene and blonde everywhere else, to make your hero smoothly transition from an A-hole to a sweetheart, and push the limits of every plot/twist.

I personally love the self-edit stage the best. That’s when I can start reading my story again – I DO NOT make any revisions to any of the first draft until it’s done. Many will write each chapter then edit as they write it – it doesn’t work for me – I enjoy going back and reading/editing my story after the first draft is done, I get those “Oh wow, did I write this? It’s so good.”  And of course there are the “Oh wow, you idiot, this just won’t do”. Self-edits are important for all authors. You want the very best piece of creativity to be sent to the publishers. I mean, why put in all that effort writing a story when you aren’t going to care for it, do each step (from self-edits to critique partners, to beta/alpha readers, etc. – your routine is YOURS so do it how it works best for you), and watch your story grow with every level of molding you put it through to not make it the very best to publish. All of us on this blog have said it – Edits / finding the right editor is VERY important. No book should be published without proper editing.

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A key piece to remember when you’re done the first draft of your stories is the most important for me – is the story always moving forward? Concentrate first on the plot/main point of conflict. During the editing process, it’s easy to get caught up in the misspelled words, etc., but my first read through is always concentrating heavily on the plot aspects. From main conflict to secondary and even tertiary plots. In the outline these three areas are the most important. I start every outline with each one. always ensure that every scene keeps things moving along quickly. Readers like the details and such, but they don’t like to be weighed down by too much that is unnecessary.

After I have diligently done all the slashing and fixes, especially if I’m uncertain the story is moving along well enough and I’m not weighing anything down but I might be too close to the story to still see the issues, I will bring in my critique partners and a beta reader. Authors are very close to ever story they write and sometimes need unbiased individual who are blunt in their feedback and will tell me us like it is. Some authors don’t need these people, and that is fine, but for me personally I can’t stress enough how useful CPs & beta readers are for me. They give me a piece of mind that I have covered all my bases to make an even better story than I first though. Besides, who better to discuss/brainstorm about a story with than other like-minded people who know what it takes to do this job.

All in all, every author has their own writing process but it all begins with that first draft. Nothing else can happen until the story is written. So sit, get the fingers flying over the keyboard and keep going until the story/characters say it is done. In most cases the first draft is not always the finished product and that is the first acceptance an author has to make. It’s a long, sometimes grueling, but amazing journey from start to finish.

 

Good luck! Happy writing!!

Kacey (2)

 

But I LIKE Editing…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Today I’d like to talk about edits. Aside from blurbs and synopses, nothing provokes more whining in authors and wannabe writers than the dreaded EDITS. Well, I guess I’m weird because I don’t mind that part. I mean, aren’t they part of the process?

Think about it. An artist does not sit down and design a perfect book cover on the first pass. It’s a painstaking process of finding or making the images, lining them up perfectly, trying again about a thousand times, finding the perfect font, balancing that with the images, on and on and on. And then they let it sit for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.

A musician does not sit down and write a piece, as if he were taking dictation, unless he’s Mozart. LOL! But seriously, it’s a long process, completed in bits and pieces, over hours and hours of detailed work and endless revisions.

film editingA movie goes through numerous cuts in the editing process. Sometimes those cuts are kept in for a separate release known as a Director’s Cut, and often they are released on a blooper reel or included as deleted scenes in a separate featured extra.

Why, then, would anyone who writes expect to sit down at the keyboard and bang out a perfect book requiring no corrections or tweaking, in the first draft? Seriously? If you believe that’s how it’s done, you don’t understand the creative process.

Take this blog post, for example. Ten drafts to get to the one you’re now reading. Sure, plenty of authors write fairly clean the first time around. I’m one of them. But I still edit my work MANY times before it goes to the publisher. Writers, like artists and musicians, are only human beings. And even published books that have had many sets of eyes on them before they were completed contain mistakes.

editing oneEditing is akin to tweaking your image or fine-tuning your composition. It’s the same necessary step in creation that an artist or musician goes through. Writers aren’t exempt from this.

Try looking at this another way. Editing is your chance to take a look at your story with fresh eyes. It’s an opportunity to make it even better. To fine-tune the emotions of your characters, and to add a bit more meaning to their conversations. It’s a chance to place tiny actions here and there that emphasize their personalties, foreshadow an important plot point for your readers, or give your hero and heroine more depth.

track changesWords are our medium, the same way notes on a page are the musician’s medium and brush strokes are the painter’s medium. Words are what we use to paint a picture in the reader’s mind, and compose a song in their hearts.

If you find the idea of going back through the entire manuscript and editing it exhausting, try breaking it down instead. There’s no rule that says you HAVE to complete an entire draft first and THEN go back. You can edit every chapter if you like. You can go back and read over what you wrote the day before, like I do, and edit that part before you move on. You can edit in whatever way you choose because it’s YOUR creation, and the only hard and fast rules are the ones YOU decide on.

edit twoEither way, expecting a perfect manuscript the first time around without the additional work of fine-tuning it isn’t realistic, nor does that do you or your readers a favor. Everyone’s work could use some improvement. It’s not your editor’s job to fix a messy first draft. It’s YOURS. Self-editing is part of the process of writing a book.

When discussing edits you receive from your publisher or an editor you’ve paid, after the manuscript is finished, it’s still YOUR job as a writer to do them. An editor is there to help you improve the story, not turn it into something intelligible, with correct grammar and punctuation. You should already be doing that part yourself. If you’re not, we have bigger problems than your hatred of editing.

Until next week, happy writing!