Day 14: Editing, “for all intensive purposes”

Photo: Nik Mc (Creative Commons Flickr)
Photo: Nic McPhee (Creative Commons Flickr)
Okay, so the title is a joke. It’s “for all intents and purposes,” although my high school students sometimes get it wrong. I hide a smile, fix it, and move on.

Today’s prompt asks about editing, which is what I am involved with now. As in right now, today. And it’s like I’m operating in Perfectionist Overdrive Mode as I comb the manuscript for nits and repetitions. Dang, I keep finding stuff!

So from now on I’ll be blogging about my new release, Darcy By Any Other Name. This is will be my first indie book, so I am learning as I go.

My best self-edit advice? Beginning-to-end repeated reading. Yes, aloud. This is a sure-fire way to spot clinkers, repeated information, and over-used words and phrases. I am ruthless with myself, because I don’t want readers to be pulled out of the story when something clanks.

“Warm readers” have stayed with me chapter by chapter, following because they’re enjoying the story. I rely on them for immediate feedback as to content and momentum. I need to gauge whether the scene carries enough emotion and whether the stakes are high enough. (Is it heartbreaking? Or funny? Are readers eagerly wanting more? Or is the scene confusing or ho-hum?) I will pretty much avoid later reviews on Amazon–I am easily cast down! –but the comments from these early readers I consider thoughtfully.

“Cold readers”–betas–look at the story as a whole. They also alert me to repeated information (the bane of serialized fiction) or to sluggish scenes that need tightening. It’s important to get rid of the stuff that readers tend to skip, so I rely heavily on these fresh sets of “beta” eyes.

Last come the proofreaders for typos and missing words. I have the darndest time spotting the latter. When I read my mind “sees” those missing words–even as a teacher grading papers! I shake my head and marvel at the eagle eyes of my proofreaders.

For future projects, I would like to hire a professional editor. It all depends on income stream, and of course I am hoping for the best.

Tomorrow’s prompt, the book cover! For this I did engage a professional, and the results took my breath away.

Would you like to see what the other challenge authors are blogging about? You can find their blogs here.

10 thoughts on “Day 14: Editing, “for all intensive purposes”

  1. Ah ha ha! Your editing sounds just like me! Re-write, re-write, re-write, so I can really appreciate this blog post. It’s funny how your eye sees things that aren’t there. My Beta’s well, my most reliable one is my niece. Master’s from Oxford, so I’m giving her credit for brains. She is good because she cuts out a lot of the unnecessary words that somehow find their way into the text. And because she is not that much into Regency, she asks questions about things that don’t make sense. I figure between Jessica and my DH, if they don’t get it, probably one of the regular JAFFers won’t either. Hard core grammar? Well, other than Jessica, I have not had a Beta go all the way with my novel. Probably because I’m so slow at writing. Aside from the kind folks who are currently reading, I’ve been bartering off singing lessons for final grammar edits. Well, Laura, I think you are doing spectacular, especially having nearly died this summer. AND … I CAN’T WAIT to get my hands on the final copy of A Darcy by Any Other Name. You ROCK! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found your post quite helpful. I never understood the role of “warm” readers vs. “beta readers.So, thanks for clearing that up for me. I’ll know this time around. I had to laugh at your “intentional” title gaff. Ha ha! I have trouble with titles and sometimes my friend helps me out. He always prefaces the help with”Why can’t you think of these on your own?” For example, I had a title, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” (in which I got lost). I finally narrowed it down to “So Near and Yet So Far,” which is a little less ho-hum. That kind of editing is more difficult for me.
    It’s so fun talking about these subjects! I also am looking forward to your book coming out and if you need the “cold” readers, I’d be happy to help out. 🙂


  3. Reading this I now know why I don’t like posting my first draft. Warm readers.

    You know my monologue on the various types of online readers. But, when it comes to them helping in the editing process, they may help in continuity and whether a scene is confusing, they can’t help much with Droning Dialogue, out-of-control narrative, or wandering plot.

    Even long, long posts can’t take the place of reading straight through. The time a readers spends on a post is not generally enough to get the to HO HUM MOVE IT ALONG!!!! stage. I KNOW many of the stories I’ve written were enjoyed online. POST MORE SOONERs. But, when editing, they need a serious trim. Serial posting was Dicken’s downfall. I love his stories, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of detritus in all of them.

    Love Suffers Long and is Kind. Need I say more?

    Commenting readers online can be helpful. The writer just needs to be thoughtful about what they say.

    Good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I share my chapters “live” because an enormous amount of trimming work goes on before–and after! –I put them up. Weird, isn’t it? Almost like I don’t take the chapter seriously unless I know someone’s going to read it…now.

    As I’m formatting the thing in the posting window even, I’m cutting, adding, clarifying. I’ve told myself that it’s seeing the words in a different font, but that’s not right. It’s knowing that once I press the post button, my words will have an audience.

    It’s the same way when I teach. My lecture notes are ignored as I interact with the students, recombining my presentation according to how they are responding.

    My Nathan tells me I am a performer, especially as I’ve been recovering. He’s right, I often act stronger than I am when I have an audience.

    I’ve tried moving ahead anyway, piling up chapters in a file, and the results are frankly dreadful. Dull, mealy-mouthed, with way too many words. It’s like a photograph out of focus. The elements are there but–ick.

    My apprenticeship in serialized fiction is to blame.

    Dickens? I think he was paid by the word. We wish!


  5. Since I do most of my “reading” these days listening to audiobooks in my car, I agree 1000 times with the advice to read your writing out loud. Your ear catches things your eye will miss. Like how the author of one book I recently listened to used the word “fractal” three times. The second time I thought,”Didn’t she use that at the start of the book?” The third time I thought, “Who edited this?!”

    Liked by 1 person

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