I just want to take a moment, come out of the cave I’ve been dwelling in, and let y’all know how much I detest yet kind of love editing. Yet kind of hate. It’s a beautiful thing, a necessary thing – don’t even submit or self publish anything, ANYTHING without editing the ever loving snot out of your manuscript or, if you can swing it, hire a professional. Or someone who knows the heck their way around the English language and how it pertains to novels and such and so forth.
Okay, so I don’t really hate editing. I just feel like I’m hitting the wall of my limited experience with the process. This girl didn’t pay as much attention as she should have in school when it came to technical terms in vocabulary lessons. Go on, ask me what a subordinating conjunction is. Okay, don’t, because I have to look that up, and it makes me feel like my editing license should be revoked, if I possessed such a thing. Of course I don’t, because I’m not an editor. But I’m trying to learn! These terms just don’t stick like I want them. How, how can my fickle brain absorb every lyric in a new All-American Rejects song, but refuse to ingrain clause terminology in its squiggly little gray matter?
Logical me: “Well, genius, if you listen to that song a few times a day for a few days, as you’re wont to do, the repetition helps you remember better. If you bothered to devote that kind of time to studying-”
Lazy me: “Shut up, I get it. My priorities are skewed, I like music, whatever. I’ll get learned on it, I promise.”
To be fair to myself, I’ve come a long way, especially since joining a writer’s group and the publishing company. Leaps and bounds. I’m still not great at editing by a long shot, but for the sake of the writers in my group, I want to give the best critique possible. I’ve found that my strength is critiquing content, or rather, I favor it over grammatical, since I’m still second guessing myself and stumbling along as I learn and hopefully improve. Or sometimes I feel like I can’t effectively edit if I’m unable to correct all the stupid crap I do in my own work. I tend to lean towards compound sentences, I get long winded, I use too much passive tense, and if I’m not careful I get repetitive with certain words.
Which is silly. A lot of people have the same issues,
please agree with me so I don’t feel alone. We’re generally too close to our own work to do a proper edit, yes? We can’t always see what needs to be cut out, or expanded upon, since we’re so close to the story and it’s hard to be objective. There’s a reason why editors and publishers reiterate over and over to be ruthless with your own work in the final stages, learn to part with scenes that don’t further the plot or characters that really have no business in the story. Among hundreds of other things editors catch and correct before your novel ends up in someone’s hands or on their Kindle. I personally would be horrified if my work was riddled with poor sentence structure, plot inconsistencies, continuity issues I didn’t catch, with all my bad habits that were never corrected and someone was reading it. This is something I can never be lazy with, or settle with mediocrity for, and no writer should. It’s the best it can possibly be, or it doesn’t see the light of day. Inevitably, there will be people who do not like the story, it’s not their thing or it didn’t do anything for them, but I hope at the very least they can say the writing was solid. It takes more than one person to achieve that, and that’s why fresh pairs of eyes from trusted opinions and damn good editors are so important.
I try to be that fresh pair of eyes for other people. Even if I don’t catch everything grammar wise – and I don’t, trust me – I constructive criticize the hell out of the content. I’m ridiculously thorough when I critique manuscripts for plot, character development, inconsistencies, structure. I really try to make sure I include everything I found I liked, too, or what I thought was done well – I believe it’s important to let a writer know what they’re doing right, instead of turning it into 9 pages of you suck. Which is what it feels like, doesn’t it? You get your work critiqued, and sometimes it feels like someone punched you in the gut and set the pages of your work on fire. And laughed at you while it burned. So it definitely helps to remember to praise what deserves it as well as point out flaws and errors.
Unless it’s really bad. Like awful, awful, should have never been sent out to anyone. I’ve had the misfortune of reading a few gems like that. *shudders*
So let’s hear it for the frustrating process of trying to edit your own work, which makes me want to throw my hands up in despair and and let lazy me hide logical me away in a closet. And trudging along with editing other peoples’ work, while constantly telling myself I’ll only get better and more experienced at it the more I work with words. Really. Iz true.
Back to blasted editing.