How I edit

No way this cup of coffee’s gonna get me through the entire editing process!

Personally, I can’t stand reading things with mistakes in them. My own work included.

It doesn’t irk me enough that I’ll stop reading whatever it is, but it frustrates me and immediately lowers my opinion of the writer or author responsible for the content.

With my own writing, I try to get it as close to perfect as possible. I’m not perfect, so there will always be some mistake. Even now, I’ll go back and read old blog posts, finding something new and racing to the edit window to fix it.

But that doesn’t excuse poor writing and silly mistakes.

I’ve always been a proofreader. Even in grade school, I’d re-read my work dozens of times before turning it in. That doesn’t mean I get everything, of course, but poorly written work and easy-to-catch mistakes drive me nuts and I want to get as many as I possibly can out of my work.

To this end, I’ve developed a pretty rigorous editing regime.

Everything I write is first typed up in Word. I use the spellcheck feature to catch any glaring mistakes. Then, I’ll read through it silently, then again while saying the words under my breath, and then a third time reading my work out loud.

Once I’ve gone through everything, I send the document around to be proofread. With blog posts, I just have my husband read through them. This is particularly handy because he’s a non-native English speaker, so he sometimes needs things explained to him. If he doesn’t get the piece, odds are other readers won’t either. The hubby is always my first proofreader for this reason. He’s also a perfectionist, so I know he’ll be as harsh as he needs to.

For newspaper and magazine articles, I’ll pass those along to my parents once my husband’s through with them. My dad’s an avid reader and an extremely intelligent man, so he picks up a lot. My mother also writes as well as teaching high school and college courses, so she’s excellent with a red pen.

If it’s a manuscript, it goes from my husband to my parents to an army of proofreaders. These include my 5th grade teacher, members of my writing group, editors I’ve worked with that are willing and have the time to help me out, and someone hired for the express purpose of editing manuscripts.

After each proofreader returns to me with their comments, I go through and make changes accordingly. Sometimes my proofreaders or spellchecker will want to change something that I don’t feel is necessary or don’t agree with. In which case, I leave it as is. However, if more than one or two of my editing defenses report the same issue, then I know it’s something that needs to be dealt with, no matter how I may feel about it.

Once I’ve incorporated all the notes, I print the work out and read through it silently, under my breath, and finally out loud. I often use my dog Turner as an audience as you tend to read things differently when others are listening.

At this point, there’s not much else I can do but send it off to blog readers, editors, agents, and publishers and hope for the best. They always seem to catch things as well and, when all is said and done, you end up having a pretty excellent piece of writing.

How do you edit?

 

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Hoarding copies of your work

I remember, as a young girl, hoarding the free magazines and newspapers at La Guardia’s Marine Air Terminal. Not much has changed!

Yes, I am one of those that hoards copies of my work. If something of mine gets published, I need at least one copy. I even print out work published online so that I have a hard copy of it.

Interestingly, all my work is scattered willy nilly around the house. You’d think as a hoarder of something as personal as my writing, I’d have everything in binders and plastic covers. Actually, that’s not a bad idea for a rainy day project!

I have copies of books, magazines, newspapers, print outs and I even go back and read through them from time to time just to remind myself of why I do this writing thing. I love love love looking back over and re-reading my work. Talk about an ego boost!

I like to think that I’m not the only one who does this. I’m pretty sure I’m not. But I do know that there is a breed of writer that doesn’t have a single copy of their work. Doesn’t want copies. Won’t even read what they’ve written once it’s been published.

Granted, I’m sure their offices, computer rooms, and attics are a lot less cluttered! The idea is that it has been written and published and people have read it, so the author doesn’t feel the need to keep a copy for posterity.

Then there are those for whom simply being published is enough. Some people avoid collecting copies of their work for superstitious reasons as well.

And I guess you could argue that, in today’s day and age, pretty much anyone can get published (whether it be online, through traditional or self publishing, or in the school newspaper), so having your work published perhaps is no longer that big a deal.

I think it’s very interesting that although we are all writers and creative minds, we each go about the process, the journey and, yes, the business so differently.

Are you a hoarder of your work? Why or why not?

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Grow Your Writing Income: Learn How

Being your own boss

Who’s the boss?

Last week, one of my favorite writing blogs, Writing Come Hell or High Water, posted a piece called The Myth of Being Your Own Boss.

In it, we are regretfully informed that thinking going into freelance writing affords us the luxury of being our own boss is a delusion.

“You are always working with, or for, a client. And sometimes you may stretch out to work with other writers, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, whatever the project requires. You may even find yourself inundated with work and hiring on writers to work for you. True, now you’re their boss in a sense, but the ultimate success of the project depends on you working well with them. Not to mention that you can set any rates you want, but you need to find someone willing to pay them.”

While we should certainly take these points into account as freelancers, I would argue that, if this holds true for us, it’s got to hold true for everyone.

Imagine you own a restaurant. The clients you are working with or for are your patrons. Sometimes you will stretch out to work with other restaurant owners, chefs, waiters and waitresses, whatever the project requires. You may find yourself inundated with work and hiring an assistant, restaurant manager, and extra restaurant staff to work for you. True, now you’re their boss in a sense, but the ultimate success of the restaurant depends on you working well with them. Not to mention that you can charge whatever you like, but you need to have the people willing to pay the prices.

Maybe you’re the CEO of a big company. You are working with and for the clients who buy your product. Sometimes you will stretch out to work with marketing directors, manufacturers, developers, HR personnel, whatever the project  requires. You may find yourself inundated with work and hiring a personal assistant, a secretary, and other office staff to work for you. True, now you’re their boss in a sense, but the ultimate success of the company depends on you working well with them. Not to mention you can set any rates you want for your product(s), but you need to have people willing to pay them.

It is a valid point that as a freelancer you are a slave to your clients. But that holds for any top position in any field imaginable. “The customer is king,” and all that.

When looked at this way, there is no such thing as being your own boss. In each instance the boss is always the client.

So the myth of being your own boss is busted. Not only for freelance writers, but in any business situation.

Are you ever really your own boss? Do you think this is an issue just for freelancers or across the board?

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Step-by-Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success

My biggest writing pet-peeves

My Great Bambinos of writing pet peeves

Of course there are the standards like their/there/they’re, ending sentences with prepositions, and — one I’ve seen a lot lately — congrads/congradulations.

And I have my own that kill me every time (Choose and chose — which one’s which? When do I use it’s and when do I use its?).

But the two that I see that just annoy the heck out of me are these bad boys:

Double-spacing between sentences
Yes, it used to be taught in writing classes that you must leave two spaces between sentences. The reason being that all typing was done on typewriters.

On a typewriter, all letters take up the same amount of space, whether it is a skinny letter like ‘i’ or a wide letter like ‘m.’ Because of this spacing issue, it was difficult to tell where one sentence ended and the other began. The double-spacing made this clearer.

Computer fonts are more proportional in size and spacing, making the double-space unnecessary. In fact, double-spacing can throw off the typesetting of a magazine, newspaper, or book layout, making the final product look skewed.

Your editor and layout designer will not be particularly happy with you if they have to go through your work and correct your double-spacing spree. It also makes it more difficult for readers — who are now used to the single-space format — to read.

So, save everyone involved some time and spare a few trees by putting an end to your double-spacing days.

Using hyphens instead of dashes.
A hyphen is a small bar (-) used to connect words and keep syllables together when the full word does not fit on the same line.

Connecting words: dim-witted, so-and-so, fine-toothed, double-spaced.

Keeping syllables together: “The police were disturbed by the young man’s indiffer-
ence to the property of others.”

So many people-for some unknown reason-use hyphens when they should be using dashes.

‘People’ and ‘for’ should not be connected. The same goes for ‘reason’ and ‘use.’ Who ever heard of a people-for or a reason-use? Nor are they syllables of the same word that need to be kept together with a hyphen for spacing purposes. Yet hyphens are used in both instances in the sentence above.

A dash is a longer bar (–) that is meant to separate thoughts and put in asides or extra information pertaining to the sentence.

“So many people — for some unknown reason — use hyphens when they should be using dashes.”

See, now isn’t that so much better?

What is your biggest writing pet peeve? Any suggestions or tips on how writers can avoid making those mistakes?

 

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