Your Personal Art to Editing

Editing is an art apparently.  For  those that follow me, you have heard my worries on self editing and my weaknesses to do so.   Today though, I have come to a conclusion.  Maybe it’s more of an epiphany.  Grammar rules are the same everywhere but how you edit your own work or what rules stick out to you are part of the “Art of Editing.”

I joined an online critique group.  Maybe it’s more like a massive online critique community.  Everyone said my story “had potential,” “was off to a great start,” or “needs some polishing.”  Two out of four people literally just pointed out questions that certain paragraphs brought up.  I expected that because I had cut out two previous chapters based on another suggestion from a critique.  Those two critiques helped me see my stories holes and did not tear me down.  I am on my way to progress because of their help.  However (you had to know that was coming,) there were two people that focused on grammar – or so their closing comments suggested.

The two that focused on grammar actually did not point out very many grammar mistakes as I had anticipated.  Yes, they did find my weakness with commas and my apparent ongoing battle with spellchecker.  Yes, I know that chain and change are not the same thing.  Too bad spellchecker did not and I couldn’t see my error.  One person specified that I need to spell-check my work.  How does one spell check a word that isn’t spelled wrong?  <Sigh> I think he meant proof read, although I had – several times. So anyway.  The second person sent me a massive rule set of how to use commas.  The issue I had was that only one of the five rules applied based on his assessment.  At first look of each of these assessments I could feel my heart drop and feared that I was a lost cause.  The second suggestion that got me was to edit, but not just edit, to read each sentence backwards.  This is probably very sound advice, but I will lose my ever-loving mind if I do this.

So, editing is an art.  Some people’s pet peeves are story lines and issues within plots and characters.  Some people have issues with not grammar but comma’s.  Others will be appalled by an incorrect word – that yes agreed should not occur.  Having a pet peeve for editing could very well blind you to other obvious issues.  How do you become well rounded in the world of self editing?  Should I read my manuscript 3 times printed, 1 time out loud, and a 3rd backwards? How do I keep my eyes from glazing over?

Pulling out my hair, I am becoming so paranoid with grammar that I am missing simple things such as an incorrect word, thank you spell-check.

Additional editing help:

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

What is your art of editing?

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6 thoughts on “Your Personal Art to Editing

  1. Katherine Checkley says:

    Ugh. I’m editing now, and it’s just so hard. I feel your pain. Plus, I’ve also considered myself “a lost cause” based on critiques, so don’t worry. You aren’t alone. And you definitely aren’t a lost cause.

  2. juliesanocki says:

    A bad critique can nearly kill a good story. A few times I’ve had to put something aside for a while because I was so upset by some “constructive” feedback. When I found a fellow writer that I can exchange feedback with, both of us getting useful criticism with no feelings hurt, it made a huge difference in how I felt and how much I’m able to write.

    • M. Ziegler says:

      I am really glad you found someone you trust. I have two people good for the ego but then I feel like they miss so much so I have to return to the evil critique’s. The things we do to grow.

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