Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, April 05, 2018

"E" is for Editing

When I daydreamed about becoming a writer, I never thought about revision or editing. Fingers poised over the keyboard, I just began to write.

After ten years of serious writing, I now realize that those planning, drafting, revising skills I taught in freshman composition apply to creative writing as well.

When I'm deep into revising and editing, I tweak my words at macro and micro levels.

Most of the time, REVISION -- that stage where I look at the chapter level and the whole book for issues like logical structure, character and story arcs, transitions, and/or plot holes -- comes before editing. Why edit sections that may be dropped or changed significantly? I'll read through that nearly final draft several times over several weeks (and sometimes months) to thoroughly analyze what needs to be changed.

EDITING for me happens at the word, sentence, and paragraph level: grammar, punctuation, and word choice (style).

I hate red pencils, but after teaching writing for 26 years, I can ink up a draft with the best. Here's where I want to slow down my focus by reading aloud. Of course, sometimes I'm distracted by issues better considered during revision, but step-by-step, I polish, analyze, and polish again.

Can I edit my own work? Yes, but let us appreciate those beta readers and professional editors who bring their skills to further polish our writing by catching revision issues and editing mistakes. I'm not a grammar witch, but I do think correct grammar and punctuation is important enough to motivate me to take just one more pass through my manuscripts before hitting that publish button.

Some self-help writing books adopt a somewhat dictatorial tone (Ah, you must . . .). I've learned to set these aside. For sheer comprehensiveness and a consistently positive tone (plus checklists at chapter ends), I recommend Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore 


May your writing go well, your stories entertain and entice the reader to new understandings, and your final versions be error-free!

Today's post is for April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Why not see what others are writing about?