This month Rhobin has asked us to consider: All books go through multiple edits. What have
your learned are your problems, and what irks you about editing?
I overuse ‘that’ and I have the playwright’s inability to describe scenes and thoughts. Worse than both of those, I have the problem resolved by the end of chapter one.
Many writers have a word/s. Favourites are that, just, like, okay, anyway, Well..
I’m sure you pick up the idea. When the wonderful Judy Roth, my editor at MuseItUp pointed out to me how often I used ‘that’ I was horrified. It is, however, an easy issue to tackle. Whatever your word/s is/are a quick find search will show you where the devils are lurking and you can amend the text.
Withholding information was another issue I struggled with when I changed from writing drama to prose. Drama allows you to expect there will be input from an actor and a director. You don’t need, and in fact would be daft, to explain what the character is thinking. Expression is the actor’s job assisted by input from the director.
In prose, this is not the case. The reader needs a few clues. If the heroine is shredding her reticule with her fingers, the reader knows she’s agitated. If she’s sitting peacably at the side of the room, the reader has no clue she’s so worked up it was inevitable she would fire the gun…
It’s all very well to surprise your reader, but not to trick them.
However, that kind of editing is fine by me. I actually rather enjoy it. What causes me sleepless nights and endless re-writing is the structural stuff. It is my natural disposition to explain things to people. Useless for any kind of fiction. If the hero and heroine are in complete agreement about the perfidy of his mother by the end of chapter one then there is no point in writing the rest of the book. There is no rest of the book. It has taken me years to understand I do this.
What irks me about editing is missing things. I hate opening the finished file and finding a mistake on page three. How did that happen?
Capital Writer, Jane Riddell has written a book on the subject Go here to Words’worth.
My fellow scribes share their own pet peeves. Why not pop over and check them out?
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1UN
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com
I think errors are inevitable – part of being human. Every single copy editor I’ve had (all professionals both with publishing houses and contracted for my indie books) have missed at least one thing. But they catch more than I do after I’ve been looking at my work forever.
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Hello Skye, It is remarkable how much they catch, I find. Anne
I think we make mistakes because the eye sees what the mind said. When you are writing your fingers are very busy writing down what your brain is telling them to do, so that’s what the eyes see, too. It is only later, after the mind-eye-finger connection dissolves, that we see our mistakes. Good post.
Hi Rhobin, Absolutely. It’s the reason a writer MUST leave a MS aside and never submit immediately. One has to come back and read it as a reader – and not the writer. Anne
I so agree with those favorite words and they’re so hard to get rid of. Good post, Anne.
Hi Beverley, Aren’t they? thanks for dropping by, Anne
Fascinating that you used to write plays. I tried, but just can’t do it, because my main focus is on my people’s inner reality.
Hi Bob, I think there is a divide. It took me a long time to move from creating the dramatic scene to a prose depiction of the same. Thanks for dropping in. anne
I agree, we all have our favorite words/character actions. Often, when we read our own work, we see what we expect to see–thus missing a typo or missing word or two. Enjoyed your post.
Hi Connie, That is so true. In another area of life, I often find myself looking for something in the cupboard which is actually already in my hand because I picked it up automatically to see the contents of the cupboard better. Anne
I’m not sure that I could write a play. I have read a couple of scripts and I want to know all the other stuff that you say is up to the actor and director to generate. Maybe I’m just a control freak when it comes to my writing. I enjoyed your post.
Hi Victoria, I know what you mean. Sir JM Barrie’s scripts are interesting to read because he does insert all sorts by way of what the characters might be thinking or might be doing. I know I think in conversations and can spend countless lost minutes re-visiting a happening in a ‘he said’ ‘she said’ manner. Thanks for dropping by, Anne