1. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    editing tips welcome

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sophronia, Feb 2, 2008.

    I am currently revising some of my manuscripts (correcting grammar, spelling, etc.). I've had lots of experience in novice editing so far, but I was wondering if anyone here can give me advice on editing my own work and other people's work.
    I appreciate the help.
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I don't know if I sound foolish telling some basics, but I've heard these basics can take one a long way.
    -Read out loud. It really helps with expression and stupid typos.
    -Have someone else read your work. It depends that in what state of mind they read your work, so make sure they are the kind who read thoroughly and carefully.
    -Use an authentic word processor (by authentic, I mean with a good store of thesaurus and/or spell-check. Although thesaurus isn't much of a need, you may find it helpful in some cases).
    -Read over and over again, but when your mind is clear of your previous review. In this way, each item you read it your mind will evaluate it in a different angle, or a fresher manner, thus you may come up with something better.
    Basically, it applies to both you and someone else's work.
    For plot, theme and characters, you should evaluate your understanding of all the aspects, and then try to see where your concept was insecure and why.
     
  3. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    My teacher says to read the story backwards. I haven't tried it yet but she says that when you go in the opposite direction you often end up noticing things one normally wouldn't if they read it straight forward.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Reading it out loud also helps. When you read it silently, you tend to only read what you need to collect the meaning. Reading it out loud, you have to process every word. Also, you can "hear" the punctuation if you read it aloud (not in the Victor Borge fashion, for those of us old enough to remember). That can be particularly effective for finding missing or superfluous commas.

    I've heard of the "reading backwards" trick. It has never worked for me, other than spotting misspelled words.
     
  5. rosiecotton
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    rosiecotton New Member

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    When I'm proofing for spelling, punctuation, typos, etc., I try to do small amounts regularly to keep the mind fresh. As others have mentioned, reading aloud really helps (or at least under your breath if you're sneaking a peek at work!) Even with a spellchecker, there's nothing like having a good dictionary at your side - it forces you to take the time on a particular word - is the context appropriate? am I using the correct form?

    When editing for content? Brutality is best. If your aim is publication, you really must make every word count. I always ask the question: Does this reveal character - (almost everything should)? Does this increase the pace of my plot? Is this level of detail necessary? Are lengthy descriptions vital in establishing setting or scene? Usually not - unless, of course, they help to reveal character or forward plot. Then hack, hack, hack. I decapitate adverbs. Banish - 'it looked', 'it seemed', 'it appeared', and all those other lazy ways of forwarding a story. (I once had a character who 'shook his head' eight times in one chapter - it's a wonder he wasn't sick!) Easy links are fine in your first draft (we all use them when we're purging a story onto the page) but the work will flow better without them.

    Hope this helps

    Rosie
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i would never recommend relying on any electronic means to find errors... the only 'checker' you should depend on is your brain...

    as far as reading aloud goes, i edit people's work all day, every day, along with my own, and never find that's needed for anything other than dialog, but seldom use it for that, either...

    what i tell my mentees to do, is to first read their work as if they were a total stranger who'd just paid good money for it... that gives you a sense of its content/style quality [or lack thereof]... then, read the work over again, as if they're a nit-picking total stranger who loves to find others' mistakes... in other words, as if they're me! ;-)

    if you want to test your editing skills, edit your piece as well as you can, then send the first couple of pages to me and i'll see if you missed anything... btw, i'm currently teaching a professional writer/editor how to edit better...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  7. rosiecotton
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    rosiecotton New Member

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    When editing your own work, you have to battle that inner voice, which will anticipate what comes next. It knows what comes next - it was there when you wrote it! and will often read what it expects to find even if that's not what's printed - especially if you're proofing a third, fourth, fifth...draft.
     
  8. Sophronia
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    Sophronia Member

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    Wow thanks for all the help guys!! I've done a lot of reading out loud before while editing, and it has helped a LOT. I never heard of reading the manuscript backwards before; I'll have to try it sometime ;)

    I think I'll take you up on that, Mammamaia; you may be hearing from me soon ^.^
     
  9. chaplainandrews
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    chaplainandrews New Member

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    This maybe off topic, but other than MS WORD is there any word processors that will do this stuff--MS Word doesn't even do it that well.
     

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