Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/14/2011 Writing Wednesday

Hello! Thanks again for your patience, and I apologize for the late reply. I will say this, after not being 8 - 5 forever, I really appreciate my closing shift. My plan for today, and the next several Wednesdays, is to go into a bit more detail about what was brought up last week, and after my experience last night, I have decided to start with editing.

Editing is the process that seems like it takes a million times longer than it took to actually write the book, and is a thousand times harder. While the amount of time it takes may not be accurate, I will agree on the difficulty. Editing is something that needs to be done in steps and phases, and these are going to be grueling, frustrating, and patience straining. The best way to get this done is going to depend on the length of the piece of work itself.

The first read through is mostly so you can catch spelling/grammar errors and make sure certain things make sense. I can't tell you how many instances I found where I put the wrong word somewhere. For this, in my opinion, the read through isn't so much to start ripping things apart necessarily, but more to give you an idea of what to expect.

The second one is when you start marking it up. Now this can be done in one of two ways, and which one you do is likely going to depend on the length of the work. If it's something relatively short, just going through the file on the computer will likely be easy enough, since you don't have to go far to get back to your place if say, the computer decides it wants to update while you're asleep and the file is forced closed. If you're working on a full-length novel, I suggest printing it out, and I recommend having a professional do it so you're not destroying your ink cartridges or your printer. I got mine printed out by Office Depot and it cost me all of about $20 for 215 pages. Not bad at all. Having a physical copy is nice because you can travel with it without having to carry around a laptop, and it's incredibly easy to find your place again once you've closed it.

During this part of the process you will be crossing things out, adding notes, basically marking it all over the place. My suggestion would be to use a pen that isn't black, since likely your text is black and having a different color makes it easier to see where you've marked something or haven't yet. Once you've read through and marked everything up, it's time to do what I call the 'find/replace' edit. It's the point in which you have your marked up copy open and you're going to those specific parts in your digital version and putting in your changes. I will warn you, like most parts of editing, this part is going to seem like it takes a lot longer than it really should. After this is completed you will do another read through, and either during or afterward, I really suggest having someone else read it as well. Having another set of eyes on the document will help find things you missed, and also certain details that either need to be changed or done differently. Peer editing is something that I have found is also incredibly helpful.

Once you've received your peer edit/someone who's not you looking at it copy, back, I suggest doing one more read through (or however many more you feel are necessary) until you don't think it can be changed any further or made any better. At that point it is safe to declare the work finished. One thing though, and I cannot stress this enough, no matter how many times you click that save button, for the love of everything holy in the world make absolutely sure that your final, edited version of your story is actually saved somewhere. Open that file, make sure it's the right one because you close whatever you were doing in it before. I wanted to absolutely rage-quit the world last night when I came home and the file I had been working on editing for over a week was simply gone. No record of it ever being on my computer, or opened by Word. Make sure it exists!

Those were my thoughts on editing, of course you can always pay someone (in real money or food) to do it all for you, but if you don't have access to either of those, it never hurts to go at it yourself. After all you're the one who wrote it, so you know how things should be described and so forth.

Thanks again for your patience while I work a normal person's shift. As always, feel free to post/comment/questions/and so forth. Come back Friday where I talk about someone's book! Until then!

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