A lot of my non writing friends often want to read a story that I’ve just finished writing. And I mean finished as in it has a beginning, middle, and an ending. But it hasn’t been proofread nor has it been edited. They all say the same thing, “that doesn’t matter I just want to read it.” It’s great that they want to read my work and that show their support in this way but why OH GOD do I have to explain the whole it’s done but not ready to be read yet. I need to fix my mistakes, and there are mistakes. There’s unfinished ideas, there’s misspellings, grammar errors, and unclear paragraphs. It all needs to be worked out and smoothed over. But they insist that they don’t care. And it’s always a mistake to take them at their word.
Have you ever had someone read something that you are very proud of that you haven’t edited yet? And when they read it but all they can point out is the fact that it needs to be edited. All I want to know is if they liked the story, but they are hung up on the those things that haven’t been tweaked yet. I can’t be alone in this. It’s so very annoying. For me it’s a hard rule not to show my work until I feel it’s ready. But I do have one non writer friend, I will now refer to him as my reader, that I share my work with. He reads my short stories, and my poetry. He helps me track the flow and points out things that I didn’t notice. He will at times even give me an idea to use within a story. This is one hell of a friend, I tell you.
Editing! I am still learning the ways of the tread. But I’ll share what I’ve learned along the way. I’ve found some websites and Facebook pages that I like to visit for information and tips on editing and writing alike. I’ve only read one book about writing and it was Stephen King’s On Writing. I loved it. I’ll share the websites at the end of the blog so you guys can check them out too, if you like.
How I begin to edit a story or a poem:
- After I’ve finished whatever it is I’m working on I put it away. Put it aside and do something else. Anything else. Just put it the fuck down and walk away. It helps to give it time so you can go back to it with fresh eyes and you won’t get sick of it. Because it’s going to be a lot of reading and re-reading when you do get back to it. there are different thoughts on how long to wait. Some say, a few weeks, or eight weeks or longer. Do what feels right for you.
- When you do come back to it. Be prepared to take some breaks and take your time. Editing and proofreading can not be rushed.
- When I come back to a story or poem I make sure I have the time to read it through without interruptions. If it’s not going to happen at home then take it with you to the coffee shop. Find a place to read and just read all the way through it without making any changes yet. Get to know your story again.
- Once you’ve read it through, do it again and this time fix all those little things you saw the first time. Fix the grammar and the spelling.
- Once those easy fixes are done and out-of-the-way read it again with a critical eye. I go through it on my computer and I will figure out those areas that need clarification like the dialogue.
- Once I’ve done this stuff I will hand it over to my reader and let him show me the way. Feedback it really helpful if you can get it.
- After I get my feed back I go back through it and take the advice I’ve been given. and fix the things I didn’t see. (And there’s stuff I miss.)
- Then I will go line by line and edited each one. Add a word, subtracted a word. Cut a line. Add a line of detail or two. Then you must cut anything that doesn’t help your plot along.
This is what I have started doing and my writing as improved because of it. Editing is a part of the process, so don’t be afraid of it. It’s a bitch, but so what. You want your work to be good right? Then improve your editing game.
Find what inspires you to write and to keep writing. These two links have been helpful for me. But these alone won’t do it. Search for more information. Keep growing and keep learning. Keep reading! Read a book twice. Once for joy and once as a writer.