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Jack London

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Self-Editing

This morning, DH schlepped his dad up to Toledo to get Muffy shaved off. We're keeping our fingers crossed that there are no complications. NW Ohio is getting the full 80% chance of rain the weather forecasters promised. So it's a rather stressful, dreary day to start with.

And I'm sitting here, staring at my screen, and mulling over an innocent comment from last night's dinner.

I went with DH to a business function. The folks are sweet and laid back, and dinner was held at a hole-in-the-wall place that serves real Mexican food, not the over-spiced stuff most Americans think of as Mexican.

Invariably, someone at dinner asks me if I'm still writing. I take that one in stride. There's a great number of people in this town that dabble in the arts but still have their day jobs.

When I said, yes, but right now I'm concentrating on editing a couple of proof paperbacks, that took my listeners by surprise. One lady, eyes wide, asked, "You do your own editing?"

Uh, yeah.

I didn't realize how deep one of Dean Wesley Smith's writing myths reached until that moment.

The following are my thoughts, and my thoughts alone, on the subject of editing. YMMV.

1) Developmental editing

Writers don't need this. If you can't grasp story structure from reading books and watching TV and movies, writing probably isn't the profession for you. (Hint: Wanna learn classic three-act structure? Go watch Star Wars.) To me, using a developmental editor is wanting someone to validate your talent by paying them an obscene sum of money.

2) Copy editing

This has to do with the consistency of the story and the possible research involved. Writers should be able to do this themselves. For example, is your heroine's eyes blue throughout your story? Which interstate runs through Las Vegas if your using that city as a setting? Seriously, you shouldn't need someone to babysit you through the basics.

3) Line Editing

Here's where grammar, spelling and punctuation come in, and dammit, if you're a writer, you should know the basics of your craft. In comparison, it's like a carpenter knowing whether to use a hammer or a screwdriver on a nail. I don't cut myself any slack in this area. I read a lot of U.K. English books, so I have a tendency to use the U.K. spelling for words. I always have to double-check!

4) Proofreading

This is the one area where hiring someone makes sense. And that's assuming you can find someone who does quality work. Notice I said QUALITY. Quality and price do not correlate. In fact, I've had better proofers who've asked for $25 Starbucks or Amazon gift cards as payment. And honestly, if the proofer misses something that you find later, do you really want to pay them thousands of dollars?

Are there exceptions to needing extra help? Of course, there are. But a writer with dyslexia still does not need a development editor! And yes, I know a couple of very talented writers who are dyslexic.

Now, I going to Starbucks for my peppermint mocha before I tackle some editing.

Angry Sheep signing off!

5 comments:

  1. I've learnd to use some of those terms a bit differently, but conceptually I agree with you. That last, "Dammit, there's a typo!" pass is the one you should pay someone else for. (Although I plan to do even that myself with short stories.) For everything else, you either don't need it (like developmental edits) or paying someone is a luxury for when your writing is bringing in so much money that doing, say, line edits yourself is costing you money.

    Angie

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    1. Yeah, I don't bother with a proofreader unless it's novel length. The terms? That's also something that changes with the region, country and type of publishing. I try to keep it as simple as I can.

      But I definitely agree with you on hiring someone when it costs me valuable writing time to mess with formatting and covers. (And I'm still learning to do a print cover, so I'm forever grateful to my cover artist!)

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  2. You might not think so but I'm one of those 'does not play well with the other kids' types of people.

    So I keep everyone away. I might have someone handle my covers at some point. I might hire someone to proof at some point, but I have a group of friends who read my stuff within the first few days and they send my typo reports. It's 2-3 per book. I'm not sure a hired proofer would catch them...

    For now I'll fly solo. It's better personality-wise more than anything I think.

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    1. Nothing wrong with doing your own proofing, Joseph. I've done it for the last five years after trying out a couple of different editors. Not that they were bad, but I don't think they got my vision for my work.

      I especially don't let anyone outside of my readers see my erotica. Too many editors CAN'T let go of their PERSONAL tastes when they edit.

      Kris Rusch posted a blog today that talks about this very thing. :)

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