1. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    How to edit?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by architectus, Mar 25, 2009.

    I'm wondering if anyone knows of editing exercises that will train my brain to pick up on errors. Mainly to pick up on errors in my work as that is harder for me. But I also miss errors in other people's work.

    It doesn't matter if I read forward or backward, I miss things like teh, their instead of they're.
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some quick ideas for you -

    * leave it alone for a few days, then go back & read it to look for errors
    * read it out loud - you'll notice your errors
    * look over your work for your common errors (such as "teh")
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Thx, Marina. I didn't even look at Bending Nature for a few months, and I still missed things when I did. I read the whole thing outloud to my son, and I did catch some more mistakes. It has been a month or more since I read it to him, and I am editing again. Still more mistakes.

    Maybe you just have to have an editor's mind. I hope there are exercises I can do to change myself into an editor. If not, I will have to higher one.

    Or, will the publishing company have their editor catch the final mistakes I couldn't?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Start with a pass with a good spell checker. That WILL catch errors like teh and adn.

    Then find a quiet room and read your story aloud. That makes your eyes slow down to the speed of speech, so you are more likely to spot errors. Stop and res a couple minutes every fifteen minutes or so, to keep you from becoming too fatigued.

    Reading aloud makes you notice awkward repetitions and other flow flaws as well.
     
  5. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    +1 on reading aloud. It catches bad dialog and awkward sentence structure aswell.
     
  6. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    I don't know the reason, but to me (and at least some others) it's far easier to spot errors on a printed version of the story than it is on screen.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    So there are no training exercises that will train the brain to be better at seeing errors?

    I miss stupid things like road when it should be rode.

    I do okay with catching missing commas and such.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Editing is the best exercise. The more you practce it, the better you become at it.
     
  9. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I guess I better start reviewing more often then, hehe.
     
  10. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    You should consider letting your work sit a while before reading it, too. If you're in a position of knowing it so well because you JUST wrote it, I think you'll tend to glaze over errors. Give it a week, then go back and read it aloud. You'll be shocked at what you catch when the words aren't in memory.
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Vayda, I let it sit for months without even thinking about it.

    I did catch a few more things, but not much. I found a lot more from reading it out loud, but that took about eight hours, and it was very tiring.
     
  12. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    You really have 2 issues and not just 1 regarding editing.

    Issue 1: Noticing SPaG
    Issue 2: Understanding SPaG

    So the 3 things I listed in my post were ideas on dealing with Issue 1. But maybe you also need to be working on Issue 2?
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Marina, yes, I continue to study grammar, but that will not help me notice when I have typed road instead of rode.

    I know which word means what and when to use road or rode, but for some reason I type the wrong one at times. The one I notice I mess up a lot is past and passed. I know which to use when, but my stupid fingers often type the wrong one, and my stupid brain/eyes don't always catch it when proof reading.

    Maybe I'm a lost cause in this regard.
     
  14. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Leave you book alone for a while (which you have been), read a few books during this time then edit yoursrs, repeat as many time as possible.

    Whenever i edit a few times i send it off to someone else to read and edit (i tell them to tear it to peices), then i use what i can, and cannot. ANd repeat with someone else. Until im happy.
     
  15. traffic101
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    traffic101 Member

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    Also there are great programs like www.whitesmoke.com which will help catch your grammar errors. But the best way is reading out loud, and finding someone else who is well versed in English to read it for you too.

    I've just created a website and I keep going over it and catching more and more mistakes. I think I could revise it forever. So I think by getting a grammar program, it might make it easier for me.
     
  16. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    architectus - Is there someone you can give it to? A fresh pair of eyes who can have a look at it? I find it doesn't matter how many times I read it through or for how long I leave it, I still miss silly mistakes. A new set of eyes are important especially if you have issues with understanding SPaG, as the others have mentioned.

    All the best.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...sorry to say, there are no 'exercises' that will help, other than doing it... the main thing is to always do at least your final edit on a print-out, not just on the computer screen... believe me, it makes a biiiiig difference... and print out double-spaced in courier, not times new roman, since times is so small and cramped, it's easier to miss stuff and much more tiring...

    ...if you want lessons in how to edit, send me an excerpt of your work and i'll show you what you missed, so you'll be more aware of what to look for...

    if youre ms is riddled with goofs, chances are it's never going to get that far...
     
  18. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Thx Maiah, I will give printing it out like that a try and see if it helps.

    I will send the beginning of chapter one. The first page or something. I know if anyone will see all the errors it's you, :)
     
  19. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Also try reading reviews, especially of bad novels with professional critiques.
    You can pick up a surprising number of hints and tips with these things. But I guess this falls under the 'read a bad book to find out why it's bad' thing.
     
  20. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    So I sent Maia the first page, or well, technically two, of my novel Bending Nature, and she caught mistakes that made me go, duh. She probably saw them on her first reading. I didn't see them until she pointed them out, not even after reading it backwards sentence by sentence.

    When it comes to editing, I feel friggin' hopeless, but I'm not giving up.
     
  21. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    That's great! Honestly, if everyone in the world was as optemistic as you it would be a much better place.

    The reason why I do not post things on this site is because I am so scared of what people will say; and I'm not joking! Everytime I read somthing I have written I see many errors or places I can improve. Wven if I think it is OK I still have this reserve of posting it on the internet in case I read it later on and hate it.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup!...

    ...you've lots of company in that, sweetieheart... but i'm a pro who's been doing this for longer'n most of you here have been alive, or out of didies, so don't beat yourself up over it, ok?... do it long enough and, if you've the talent it takes to hone the skills it takes to be a good writer, you'll get there eventually...

    ...atta boy!... one of my own 'greatest lines' is something you should probably print out and put up on your monitor, where you can't miss it:

    "Nothing's impossible, till you quit...and nothing's possible, unless you start!"

    healing hugs, m
     
  23. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a few ways of editing. For basic errors such as typos it's a case of find and replace. Find 'teh', replace with 'the', etc. It weeds out the silly little errors. Then it goes through a reading, which normally finds other errors, if there are any.

    The best safety net for errors, I find, is another person reading your work and asking them to report back on it. The way your brain works might not pick up on some basic mistakes, and sending it to someone else to read will normally sort these problems out. I'm lucky to have a couple of friends who are more than happy to read my stuff and report back on quite a few things, with mistakes being one thing. One is a writer himself, and I return the favour, but the other is just a voracious reader who always wants more stuff to read and comment on.
     

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