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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