March 14th, 2021

Beyond the Ocean's Edge

Thoughts on Writing 23

#AmWriting #IndieAuthor #WritingCommunity

There's a bit of a glare, but here is the binder in which I've placed the printed version of
Darnahsian Pirates: The Third Stone Island Sea Story
(Yes, at that time I called it ....:One More Stone Island Sea Story)

So the last time I talked about writing, and specifically about editing, I mentioned I would delve a little deeper into self-editing.  Back when I first ventured into the subject of editing, I briefly noted that self-editing was important and that a writer should do as much as possible.  Today I'd like to talk more about self-editing, and perhaps offer up some hints and tips for doing so.  As always, what I offer are my thoughts and ideas, perhaps what has worked for me over the years.  It could very well be that these ideas may not always work for anyone else.  And of course, there are a number of writing advice people out there who also have and promote ways of self-editing.

(At this point you should note that most of these posts are basically in first draft status.  What you see here is basically what comes to mind as I sit down to post.  Thus you are likely to find an error here, a typo there, or the occasional grammatical mistake.)

Most of the writing experts, and I agree, suggest that once you finish your manuscript, that you set it aside for a while.  Get it out of our head.  Get over that ephoria that occurs upon completing what may have been a very daunting project.  Quite possibly, if you try to edit immediately, you will either see it as perfect and not catch all the problems, or you will feel it is terrible and make the whole process harder than it is.  How long you wait is up to you.  It might be a week, a month, or even several months.  If you are like me and write pretty much in story order, almost as if you are reading it for the first time, it may be that several weeks or months have passed since you were working on the opening pages.  Then you might be able to go back to the beginning and start editing at once.  Or, at least sooner than you would be able to go back to something you have just written.  The whole idea is to be able to approach the work as objectively as possible, to be able to look at it almost as if someone else wrote it, or as if you were acting as a first reader for someone else.... except it is your work.

Once again, I agree with most of the experts and believe that the first step in self-editing should be to print out a copy of your manuscript.  It's generally believed that we read closer on the printed page than on the screen.  There, we tend to skim and scan more and thus might not see the errors we look for.  I print my manuscripts out in standard manuscript format, except I print on both sides of the page.  I then put it in a three ring binder which I can take with me to various places.  As I mentioned some time ago, I write on a desk top, so if I'm to do anything via computer, I'm pretty much tied to a single location.  But with a print copy in a binder, I can sit in my recliner where I normally read, and back when I was working, I could take it with me and do a little editing on my lunch hour.

Many of the advice givers suggest that the first step in self-editing is simply to read it, although I didn't do that until working on my latest Stone Island Sea Story.  Be your own first reader, critique partner and just read it.  Switch from being in a writing pace to a reading pace.  This is important, because in a writing pace we tend to restate or repeat information that as a reader we find repetitive.  It may have been several months ago when we first mention it and by now we barely remember.  So we mention the fact again.  But as a reader we may have noted that information yesterday or even today.  And at a reading pace we might also more easily notice plot holes and other inconsistencies.

When making this first read through, don't worry about fixing everything.  Get a feel for the flow of the story and make a note of what needs to be fixed.  Rather than rewriting a scene or a chapter, just make a quick note and perhaps circle or underline the section in question.  "Fix this!" or "Spell this character's name this way!"

Next time we'll get further into the process.