Speaking of Editing

I’ve been writing for a lot of years and also editing.  However, I am here to tell you my editing skills are lacking.  You’d think it would be pretty easy going through your work, picking out the misspellings and grammatical errors. 

Well yes on the first, and pretty well on the second (especially with Word functions).  However, looking at style and composition of a sentence and/or paragraphs is when it gets dicey . . . especially after a few pages.  I do my best, but I can only think critically for a few paragraphs before I find myself just reading. 

Yeah.  Part of the problem is I know what I really meant to say and I can visualize what I’m telling the reader . . . but the words don’t always equate with what I’m seeing in my head.  I’ve discussed this topic with my best friend many times. 

There is an art to editing, and being able to tell a story is not the same thing as being able to edit a story to make it the best it can be.  I look at writing similarly to sculpting.  You take a hunk of wood, clay, etc. and you shape it into a head.  Anyone looking at it sees the face and the basic features.  But it takes a different eye to bring in on all of the details to really make the sculpture look life like. 

I see the same process in editing.  The editor shapes the language in a way to allow the reader to keep the flow of the story and enjoy what’s really going on.  Again, writing and editing are two different skill sets and while it can happen, I do not see they go hand in hand. 

A good writer can be a poor editor and a great editor may not be able to write a decent story.  My real comment here is—there is a lot of pressure on writers to edit their stories as cleanly as possible before it will get picked up.  Which in turn, means the writer needs to find other sources for editing, whether it’s qualified friends (I say that because a reader doesn’t necessarily know how to edit either), professional editors or services. 

In today’s industry, for good or ill, there is a lot of expectation for a writer to be a one person band:  writer, editor, and promoter, and you either have to learn skills or find others to keep you on your game.

It sounds daunting and I suppose it is, but I stick by the old adage:  if it’s easy it’s not an endeavor you strive to perfect.  

Happy Holidays!