Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Editing, Oh SHit!

My goal is to help first time writers but I have got to warn you... I've most likely got less to offer than your basic 101 college class.  Hence the name Novel Writing 100.

Now, let's play a game… It'll be fun for you and mildly humiliating for me.  How many errors can you find in this blog?

It's not that I mean to.  It's just that I forget a word here or there.  My brain moves faster than my fingers.  A homonym sneaks in.  And I know the rule.  I've used it right a thousand times but I am in the middle of this scene and I am so in to what I am writing that the rules fall out of my head.

I write it's when it should have just been its.  You know the mistakes.  You might have made them.

Here is my second problem.  I go to edit my writing.  It's easier with short pieces for my freelance work.  I employ the trick where I read the piece back words.   I find the mistakes.  But when I wrote a novel, I couldn't read all 84,000 words back words.  I'd be 80 before I finished.

So I read the novel through three times.  An editor read it through once.  Then my mother-in-law picked it up.  We were sitting across the table from each other when she dropped the bomb.

"Loved your book but did you notice the errors?  I thought you had a professional editor?"  I tried to keep the smile pasted to my face.

I knew the problem.  I start reading to edit and I get distracted by the dialogue.  Does it further the characters?  The story, is it coming together?  My eyes skipped right over the word heat that was supposed to be heart. 

What happened next was two weeks of intense editing.  My book was pulled off the shelf.  My mother-in-law and I went through it page by page and got, what I hoped, was all of the errors.  Turns out, it wasn't.

The book is back on the shelf and my pride is still smarting.  I wish I had done things differently.  I didn't have another set of eyes read the book because I didn't want to put people out.  I was still having trouble sharing with my inner network.  What if they didn't like it? 

Big mistake.  If you have written or in the process of writing a book, ask a friend to edit.  It has to be someone you trust.  I don't want help with the story, just the grammar.  That is hard for some people to do, keep their opinions to themselves.

You can ask for as much or as little help as you want but you should ask.  It helps, really.  Better to be slightly embarrassed in front of your friend than every person who buys your book.

 Good luck with your writing.  Better luck, than me, with your editing.

If you are at all interested in playing this game on a grander scale, feel free to check out my book Lily in Bloom by TJ Burton.  You can find it on Amazon.