Thursday, June 25, 2009

Editing is hard work

Editing is hard work. I think harder work than writing the darn thing in the first place. And sometimes I do wonder if it is really an art form in and of itself. Course then I think, well, it can't be totally apart from writing, since you have to have Something To Edit! But they do need to go together. Hopefully in a harmonious relationship, but that's not always - or maybe even usually the case.

I think you learn it by watching how the people around you work with authors, and it happens almost by osmosis. There are many different styles of editing, too. It's an apprenticeship. There are courses you can take to learn the mechanics of the business, like the Radcliffe course, but I don't think they teach you how to edit. Editing is more by-the-hip.

You look at a text and ask yourself how it can be improved.

And this from Writers They also have their 2009 - 101 Best Sites for Writers up. So while you are there to look at the best sites check out some of the other neat stuff there too. Like this one on editing that I'd never heard before and I thought was Really good/interesting….

Tip of the Day

Mistake 44: Overediting and Removing Subconscious Seeds

Source: 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: There are writers who overedit what they write during the process of completing their work. Why is it a mistake
to polish a work-in-progress?

First, you are polishing writing that you might need to cut later on. This means that you are not only wasting time editorially, but making it that much harder to cut the material when so much time has been invested.

Second, you plant subconscious seeds in your early drafts. You put in things that sometimes seem to not quite belong. Yet. And if you overedit, you take them out too soon. Because later on, when you get stuck in chapter twenty-eight, if you go back and re-read what you wrote earlier,
you’ll discover you need that seed, that your subconscious put it in way back when, “knowing” you would need it.

Third, you end up spending a lot of time editing and not getting to the end of your work.

The solution:
Don’t overedit your early drafts of your work, no matter how tempted you are. Move forward in the project. Don’t worry about those weird things in the early drafts that nag you. The nagging is good; you just might need those weird things later on.

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