WobblyBlog

Do You Love or Dread Editing?

Editing is the process that helps us move from seemingly random thoughts on a page to a polished, ready-to-publish novel. It’s time to toss the Dread and hug the Edit. The following eight editing steps are more or less in order even though authors loop back to earlier steps on occasion. Note that most authors prefer step 3A or 3B, not both. Let’s don’t go edit crazy, now!

1. Self Editing

It’s natural to edit as you go along. Typical self-editing corrects spelling, rewrites worrisome sentences, and makes changes to the plot direction.

PRO: You are available whenever you are writing. A quick edit of a previous page can give you the boost to continue forward.

CON: Good for a quick check, but you are too close to the writing to see very much. There is the trap of spending too much time on perfection to the detriment of any progress.

2. Friends and Family

Asking friends and family to read opens your reading world beyond yourself. You’re well on your way to being an Author. When friends and family offer, or accept your offer, to read what you have written, they bring fresh eyes to your document.

PRO: You’ll have someone else’s perspective. When you’re overcome by doubts, they are good for a dose of kindness.

CON: Their perspective is clouded by their relationship with you, and they may or may not have the time and skill to do more than read a little, and say “That’s good.” Their schedule may not allow them to meet your deadline needs.

3A. A Local Critique Group of Authors

If you’ve joined a local group of authors, the group may meet regularly to read and critique snippets of each other’s work.

PRO: You’ll have the less personal perspective of other writers on a portion of your writing. You will learn to accept criticism rather than argue or explain. You will develop a professional relationship with other authors.

CON: You may not be available for every group meeting. The writers have a variety of skills and experience, and you may receive erroneous advice. Not everyone in your group may be familiar with your genre. Because your reviewers are reading only a small snippet, the group may hone in on irrelevant points.

 3B. An Online Critique Group

An online critique group allows you to submit your writings for critique and in return, you critique others.

PRO: You work at home on your own schedule. You submit and reciprocate on your own schedule. The critiques tend to be grouped by genre. You will learn to accept criticism from a variety of people you don’t know and can’t see which is early training for reviews after you are published.

CON: The writers have a variety of skills, and you may receive erroneous advice. The group is fluid, and a reviewer with good ideas may no longer be available. The reviewers still read only a snippet at a time and may hone in on irrelevant corrections. However, the reader who told you he found seventeen adverbs in your submission is not necessarily a bad reviewer. True story.

4. First Draft Readers

A first draft reader is one who will read your writing for the story and tell you whether you have gone awry.

PRO: You select your first draft readers from your more skilled family members or an author from your group who understands your genre.

CON: First draft readers are hard to find. Readers sometimes get bogged down by commas and grammar when you need to know whether your characters are believable and your story is logical.

5. Draft Two (etc) Readers

Readers of subsequent drafts read the story with an eye for your characters and the story. If they see punctuation or grammar corrections, they will mention them.

PRO: More eyes; more perspectives. It’s recommended to use readers who have not read along in the development process of your writing.

CON: Additional readers are hard to find. Not everyone will be able to meet your schedule or your expectations.

6. Editing Software

Editing software reviews your writing for the mechanics: grammar, punctuation and writing style.

PRO: Your editing software will help you to see your weaknesses and correct them. Do you tend to overuse cliches? Your editing software will tell you. Passive verbs? Your editing software finds them. Software is time-saving because it finds areas for correction much quicker and with more accuracy than any other method.

CON: Editing software is not infallible. Sometimes it misinterprets or is wrong and sometimes it misses something critical. It’s a mistake to change anything just because the computer said so. Your own skill and research must be applied.

7. Professional Editor

A professional editor is critical before you release your writing to the outside world. Give your professional editor the most polished document you can. One that you have scrubbed to the best of your ability by using your writer/readers, draft readers, and editing software.

PRO: After your professional editor completes the edit, and you have made corrections, you are ready to publish.

CON: Professional Editors cost money.

PRO PLUS: Your editor is your secret weapon for success.

8. Release Your Final!

Now you are ready to query an agent, submit to a publisher, or self-publish!

 

Take a peek at my books that are available on Amazon. Judith A. Barrett Books

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WobblyBlog

Your First Draft ~ Getting Started or Unstuck

writersblock

The hardest part of a first draft for me – you too? – is getting started. The second hardest part is hitting a wall or being stuck. Here are eight tips for writing the first or next paragraph, page, or chapter that helps me to keep it moving.

1. What is your story?
To get started, jot down what your story is about. You need only a few words, and the notes are just for you.

Examples: Power grid goes down; counterfeit drugs; smuggling; murder and a second murder.

2. Who is your main character?
Name, age, what does he or she look like? What are their good points? Bad points?
Example: Maggie, 20’s, short, slender, dyed gray hair. Smart. Literal. Lies.

3. When and where does your story take place?
Current or future? Real or fantasy world? Urban or rural location?

4. Who is your main character going to talk to?
Give your main character someone or something to talk and react to – a dog, person, dragon, or other.

5. What happens next?
Keep the plot moving, but not necessarily in a straight line! When something bad happens, how does the main character fix it? When the main character does fix a problem, what happens to make it go wrong?

6. Make up the story as you go along.
Many people work well with an outline, but others don’t. Outline or no outline, the purpose of the first draft is to get the story out of your head. Fix the holes later.

7. When you are stuck, take a break.
Do something active or go outside. Run, plant a garden, pull weeds, play tennis, or watch birds. Take a walk and think about chickens. Or goat yoga.

8. Superstuck? Cantaloupe.
If you’re superstuck and can’t think of a word or what happens next, type a code word that wouldn’t appear in your story. I use cantaloupe. And move on. Go back days later and search for cantaloupe. You’ll either forget where you were going and fill in something else, or you’ll fill in what you were trying to think of in the first place. Either way, you win.

Your turn – What helps you get started or unstuck with writing?