Writing Workshop Basics: Editing

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Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. ~Author Unknown

Stop right there…now it’s time to edit.

The Beginning…And Ending: Writing is fun! Don’t you agree? Watching your story unfold on paper (in digital or other format, maybe even parts of it on a napkin) is magical, like having an incredibly awesome day. The story comes to life; you fall in love with the characters; you get whisked away to new and exciting places; the magical list goes on and on. Then, when you’re finally finished with your manuscript and feel like you have constructed a satisfying ending, you smile, give that manuscript a hug, call it a day, and go to sleep. The next day you wake up and reality hits. You have to edit, which is not always so much fun.

The Plot: Here’s the plot part of my editing story for Username: Bladen: When I finished my manuscript, I edited and edited and then edited again. My beginning went through so many edits that I think it originally sounded like a completely different story. In case you’re unfamiliar with the plot in Username: Bladen, it’s about a real-life video game. Whether a player wins or loses in the game directly affects catastrophes on earth. Win in the game, fewer catastrophes. Lose in the game…not so good. You get the picture. Well, my original story wasn’t about a video game at all, so you can just imagine how long it took me to edit that in.

Punctuation and Grammar: The next thing I had to consider was my own expertise in editing, or lack of expertise. I didn’t major in English in college. I have a psychology degree, which means I may have a vague understanding of people, but it doesn’t necessarily get me far with the written word. I did home school for ten years, and believe it or not I learned a lot from it. If you’ve ever home schooled, you may have heard of A Beka Books. Let me just say in their curriculum, they love to have students diagram sentences.

What Next? I did my very best job editing myself. I let others take a look at small pieces of my manuscript for feedback. My amazingly patient teenage daughter read it for me at least three times. Then I looked for someone professional in the field who really knew their stuff, and I found her. A real editor. A professional in the field. She was recommended to me by a friend of mine. She was reasonably priced and did a fantastic job. She became more than just an editor; she became a friend. I would hire her again in a heartbeat.

Life Is Not Perfect. Learn From Your Mistakes: Oh no, that doesn’t sound good. The word mistakes lends to the thought that something went wrong. Well, something did go slightly awry. My book was published and printed the first time around with too many typos. My editor and I had previously said our friendly goodbyes. She had recommended that I have my manuscript printed out at my local printers in a spiral bound copy with a larger font size (a fabulous idea). I did that. Then we both agreed that if we found any additional typos, we’d contact each other. That didn’t happen. I never even thoroughly went through the manuscript after that before it was published. Westbow Press (my wonderful publishing company) gives ample time to recheck every detail of a book before an author signs off on it. I just assumed it should’ve been in shipshape form, but there were some silly mistakes; because when an editor or anyone else uses editing software, a manuscript should still have a final manual check. That was my responsibility. If I had been more thorough and had checked my manuscript before publishing and had found the extra typos and had mentioned it to my editor, she would’ve checked it herself. I know. I know. It wasn’t very smart on my part, but I wanted to share my mistake in hopes that you other amazing people don’t make the same mistake. Not that you would. Actually you probably wouldn’t. But in the end and on a positive note, it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to learn to get back up, learn from the mistake, and move on.

Epilogue: By the way, I did reedit and resubmit my manuscript for publication, so a second more polished edition is available. I will never make that mistake again. It really is important when you publish to know that your work is edited and grammatically sound. It’s worth it to hire an editor. I learned a great deal.

So the additional morals of the story are: Live and learn. Life goes on. Don’t sweat it. Everything works out the way it should. We’re all human. Breathe. Pray. Smile. No matter what, believe in yourself. And if you actually read this entire post, thank you.

Okay, nuff said. See ya!

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About jvcarrwriterauthor

Everybody has realistic dreams, ones that start with a seed in the heart, are watered, then grow. Well...I finally published my dream, my young adult novel entitled Username: Bladen. The idea to write it literally struck me in the darkness of the night. I began this project not too long ago, though now it feels like forever. This book, in its original manuscript form, meandered down a typical publishing path in many ways, until it recently settled (Yay!) on the shelves of cyberspace. Soon, I hope it will find a happy home on the shelves of many book lovers, in a real home not just a virtual one. After all who doesn't like to see their dreams come true? Today, with the technological advances that we enjoy, dreams of publishing are well within a writer's grasp. Every mom, much to their chagrin, experiences sleepless nights. With six kids, I honestly can't remember the last time I slept through the night. Typically, when I wake up and can't fall back to sleep, I think too much about things, meditate, or pray. One night as I was praying, the plot for Username: Bladen literally flooded my thoughts. I got so excited about it that I decided to sit down and write and write and write. I spent a lot of time learning about publishing. I joined forums and writers' groups. When I finished my manuscript, I entered it into The Sandy Writing contest, which was a terrific learning experience. I didn't win, but one judge loved my story and gave me almost a perfect score. That gave me a lot of encouragement. I also queried it a little, and am amazed by how much I learned and loved the process. I know nobody likes rejection letters, but I appreciated the personal letters I received from agents that gave me insight into why they rejected my manuscript. Then finally, after I learned that publishers don't have a lot of shelf room for young adult novels with a male protagonist, I decided to stop querying and publish through Westbow. I found an extremely talented editor, and rather quickly finished the process of publishing my book. I couldn't be happier with the final result. If anyone has a story to tell, are willing to be diligent, and have a dream to be a published author, you can do it! Believe in yourself and make your dream come true!
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10 Responses to Writing Workshop Basics: Editing

  1. Good comments. Thank you for following my blog, thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com – Wishing you the very best.

  2. kenrob2037 says:

    Well, I can’t say writing is fun, it’s rewarding when it all comes together though. I agree fully about diagramming sentences, it show you what a Complex, Simple and Compound sentence actually is.There would be no writing, if there wasn’t editing. The old story, nothing is written, it’s re-written. Editors need to understand how you breathe, and even more intimate things if they are going to edit you works correctly. Well said. Cheers Rob

  3. jaysquires says:

    Love your advice, especially the part about forgiving oneself. Getting up, brushing yourself off and hopping right back on the creativity choo-choo (Okay, you were smart enough not to use that metaphor — so much more the reason you wrote the blog, not I, LOL). Good luck.

  4. Thanks Jay. And…cool metaphor!

  5. Great to learn from your words here. I will be getting an editor for my next book.

  6. elegsabiff says:

    Ha, I so identified with this, loved it. When I’m writing, and on a roll, I can add 1000 words an hour and more, have pulled together an entire novella in a weekend (yes, I have no life) but it takes 6 months to actually produce it and the book is a completely different animal at the end. Pick, prune, cut, add, send to beta readers, pick, prune, cut, add after their comments (especially the puzzled ones) and finally send to my editor knowing smugly it is PERFECT and of course it isn’t. Even she missed one inadvertent name change at a fairly exciting point, a reader drily pointed it out to me 4 months after the book was published! Blush. My first was released on 1st January and I did a quick re-read the other day and made a few changes. At this rate it should be exactly as it should be around 2020. Maybe.

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