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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Self-Editing, the Andy Way * Part Two

     In the editing process, this step is sometimes one of the hardest parts.  Just like my fisherman, you have to be patient and let the story sit or lay.  Put the story away.  Tuck it into a drawer and forget about it for a while.  How long?  Now that is a personal question. If you have a hard time doing this then go fishing or sit on your hands, write another story, or take a nap in the sun.

     Have you pulled  something you wrote out several years later and wonder who wrote this?  I cringe when I look at some things that have sat for a long time.  When you take a break from your work, your head and heart get out of your way.  You are not as attached to your work and are more able to see where there may be issues.  


     When your ready to pull out a piece and start the editing process, print out a hard copy and make sure it is double or triple spaced.  Read the whole thing through once without actually doing anything.  Sorry, you are not done yet.

     Next, it is important to look and see if you actually have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Simple as it sounds, starting the real story too late will loose your reader.  Ask your self some questions about your three parts and make some notes off to the side.

    Grammar comes next.  Correct your grammatical errors.  It does not hurt to have someone else read just for grammar.  This is where my critique group, Pens & Brushes gets an A++.  They see blatant errors that I have missed multiple times.  

    My last suggestion in this post is to take adjectives and adverbs that the story does not need.  We storytellers love to embellish and often we bore and do not allow our readers much room to participate in our stories.  We dumb the reader down.  Let's give them a break and trust they understand.  

    I bet you knew all this.  It is nothing new to most of us. How often do you skip through or over parts of your editing process?  This is where I believe having a systematic approach like Andy does is helpful.

     Tune in next week for some serious questions to ask yourself about your writing.



Mirka Breen said...

I recognize the process, and feel a visceral cringe remembering what it’s like to read one’s own ‘old writing.’
To Andy’s good advice I’d add- be kind to yourself, or the manuscript may find itself quickly back in the drawer or worse, being shredded.

Tina Cho said...

Thanks, Diane, for your nice blog post. Now that I had a few years of writing under my belt, I have some "old" ms I can actually dig out! Like you said, my heart doesn't get in the way now while editing them.