Inside the Editing ProcessPosted: November 25, 2010
Okay, I know I have been negligent in giving this blog the tender loving care that it deserves. I have been negligent in a lot of things lately, due to my husband’s illness and the care that he has required. I’ve taken leave from work, as well as cutting back time for writing and editing, but I’m trying hard to get back into the swing of things, so let’s talk about my latest endeavor. Did you catch it back there? Yep, I said editing. This has been a new and glorious prospect for me, because I’ve discovered that I am pretty good at it, and I’m learning a lot about writing, by looking at it from an editor’s perspective.
I never realized how much work really goes into the editing process. That was the first thing that I learned. I guess I hadn’t thought about it before, but it’s not just making a few corrections and sending it back to the author for repair. Oh, no. After that, the author sends the rewritten version back and you have to edit the whole thing again. Now this may sound like a pain, but I also learned that it is well worth it, for half the time I find things that I missed the first time around, or even change corrections that I had suggested back, because they didn’t have the effect that I thought they would. Many chapters go back for rewrites and then, re-editing four or five times, before I can call them good and put them in my finished folder. This is why they say you shouldn’t try to edit your own work, at least not on the final manuscript—authors can’t be objective enough about their own words, because they are too close to it. Through editing, I’ve been learning what to do in my own works, as well as what not to do. Here are some helpful things that I have learned so far, through my editing, about the writing process.
• I learned that sometimes autocorrect fixes things that don’t need fixing.
The computer program doesn’t recognize that you are writing dialog,
and sees a period as the end of the sentence, capitalizing the next word,
regardless of whether it should be or not. I’ve been constantly fighting
with this in my own writing, as well as when editing the work of others.
It also fails to pick up on things that need correcting. The computer
doesn’t distinguish between “Their” and “There”, or “Your” and “You’re”.
As long as the word has a legitimate spelling, the autocorrect doesn’t
perceive it as being wrong, even if it is wrong for the context of the
• I learned that if you work with people and can be reasonable with
pricing and flexible with financing, you are often more likely to get
the job. I guess that is true for anything, not just editing, but I do
think it makes a difference. And I look at it this way; doing the job
for a little less than I would have liked and accepting payment in
installments, is better than losing the job because it is overpriced,
and not getting paid at all. I also think that this is one way in which I
can help out my fellow writers, and I’m all for that!
• I learned that sometimes, I can get so into the writing, that I take
liberties and actually suggest ways to reword things, instead of just
suggesting ways that it might be changed. So far this hasn’t been a
problem, but I can see where it could be. I’ll have to be careful not
to step on any author toes.
• I learned that while the bottom line is that the author is the boss, I have
been amazed at times, at how willing the author may be to take my
suggestions to heart. It brings a smile to my face each time I see one of
my suggestions implemented, and makes me feel good to know that I
might actually be making a difference that improves the work’s chances
of being published.
• I learned that when I feel like I’m going to scream if I have to read
chapter two one more time, it’s time to put it down and move onto
the next chapter. That’s when I need to pick up a chapter from the
file that is still waiting for first edit, and read something fresh that I
haven’t scrutinized so many time that I lost count. And… there is
such a thing as over analyzing and it is easy to do. I’ll have to be
careful not to pick each chapter to death.
• I learned that I like editing. I was hesitant at first to get into the editing
side of the business, because I’d never done it before. No experience.
But how are you going to get experience?…. Exactly! So far, I think I’m
holding my own. (By the way, it also felt great to be able to add copy
editing services to my website as I redesigned it, and to find my name
listed in the acknowledgements of the book as someone who helped
make it happen.)
• I learned that if I do too much editing at one time, I start making
changes and correcting spelling and punctuation in everything I
read. I have to remember to consciously switch mental gears,
when I’m reading for pleasure, rather than business. Somehow, I
don’t think Stephen King would be as interested in my suggestions
as my clients are.
Well, that’s what I have learned so far about editing. I have no doubt that I’ll learn more, as time passes and I edit more manuscripts, and of course, I will share it here, in hopes that it might help you to learn something, or at least make you chuckle.