Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year, New Start

Editing Deadlines

Editing by its very nature needs deadlines. Nothing is ever perfect, it can only be as perfect as we can make it. The temptation is to tinker with every manuscript for as long as possible in the hope of tracking down every error, every weakness.

Yesterday, when I said No Goals, I meant it. Today I realised the depth of my hypocrisy. Okay, I have not cheated and made goals. My goals have been made for me. I have two, maybe three books to be edited by the end of the month. I am part of a team. This is my job. I hardly think of this as a target.

But when it comes to editing my own novels, languishing unloved in folders, cupboards and under desks, I set goals and fail to keep them time after time.


This month I am also very proud to be one of the guest editors at Savvy Authors, where almost one hundred authors have signed up for a month-long intensive editing session. 

Here I am promoting slow and steady writing, and I'm helping authors whoosh through their novel editing in four short weeks? Well,yes. Sometimes we can agonise for far too long when what we really need to do is step back, take a long hard look at what is there and see through the reader's rather than the writer's eye.

What is important is the book as a whole--nitpicking does nothing toward developing a  cohesive book with a strong theme.

Learn from Mistakes

Authors who do not take risks and make mistakes also miss the chance to learn and develop. Editors learn from their mistakes too.

Most writers have favourite words and phrases that soon become overworked. Weak verbs like feel, seem, be are useful but when overworked do not add to the narrative strength of a story.

Using then  as an adverb or conjunction in every paragraph starts to annoy a reader. Starting every sentence with he or she soon becomes boring. Beginning every sentence in a paragraph with an -ing word, as I have done here, is also a no-no.

It is hard for an outside editor to sort these structure faults in one pass. In my early days as an editor, I used to try. After one author changed 498 appearances of she sighed to she breathed deeply, I  
realised I needed to give clearer directions in my edits.