Friday, July 13, 2007

I've already written an article on my dyslexic fingers. If you've read it, you may have thought I was joking. I've decided to write this entire article without editing any of it.

1. this will show you how bad my "condition" can be. I am a trained touch-typist capable of around 80 - 90 words per minute on a good day and used to be able to attain that level without a single eorror.

2. I hope to also show readers, especially beginner writers, that the good published work you read, you know the stuff you compare your own work to, starts in a fairly similar way to this article - in dire need of editing

now. You may be thinking that I'm not doing too bad so far. And okay, I haven't mucked anything major up, but I'm still warming up and a certain part of me is e… oops, I just edited out a word without thinking. As I was saying part of me is editing ias I go and it's very hard to stop it. For instance I tend to slow down when to think about what I want to say. That's good too, in every other article except this one. Also, Word keeps turning my - oops, did it again. I was going gto say little letter I's and then thought how immature, it should be lowercase i. Look at that, didn't do it.

Another thing you may notice is that I tend to ramble even more than usual. I find that in order to stop editing myself atuomatically I must attempt to free write. In other words sjust top thinking. It must be working notice the increase of typographical errors.

Critics might like to suggest that I just couldn't think of anything else to write about. They could be write I suppose but I have been thinking about this exericse of a couple of days now which suggests at least some forward planning on my part… I hope.

The point of this readers is that while you should read as much as you can on lots of topics, especially anything in your preferred writing genere, you really shouldn't be comparing your rought draft [no matter how many times you've rewritten it] to an already published piece. The difference between your work and ther published is, oc course, the services of an editor. At some time between when you've finished reading, I mean writing your great novel, and the time it gets put on the bookshelves and selling out over night t in order to make you a billionaire and household name, an editor has been employed. The editor [this was going to be one really long sentence but I just couldn't do it to you] picks up all the spelling mistakes, grammatical and punctuational errors and any other necessary fixer-uppers, and, well, fixes them so that you have a lovely polished work of art to present to your admising public.

Until the day you an actually afford a top-notch editor, you will need to do a bit of editing yourself. The better you get at this, the better your work will be. Do note one little detail though, sneaky little typos nearly always get in somewhere. If editing isn't your strong point, there a re plenty of books around on the subject. Read ca couple. Pay attention to what they say and take the time to read over your work. Use a ruler as aguide under each line, follow each word with a pen. Some people read th elines backward. I've tried this but only succeeded in making myself confused.

Make use of spellcheck but don't rely on them completely. After all, the y are computer progarms not reading humans and what makes sense to them will bmaboozle the rest of us. Bambaoozled yet? I'm actually a very good speller too. Where were we… ah, yes - also pay attention to cadence which will be altered quite quickly if the punctuationis in the wrong spot or missing entirely. Repetitions are a real story-stopper and anything that stops the flow of story is bad, bad, bad. If you say the same word more than twice in once sentence or even in one paragraph there had better be an excellent reason. If the word is unuusual and you say it in more than one chapter, tehre had also better be a good reason. And it's not just word repetition - phrases and terms used over and over bog good stories down.

Sentence length is another important point. Variable is best. Too many long sentences and thes tory gets boring. Too many short and the story gets lost and then boring. Paragarphs are best varied too. Readers can only take so much solid blocks of text at one time before their eyes get sore, eyelids droop and before htye know it they've closed the book and gone off for a nana-nap.

These a re just a few tips to get you started. The rest is up to you!

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One little reminder, the article above has been deliberately left (mostly) unedited and while I would dearly love to tidy it up and cut a lot of it out, that would destroy the point of the exercise.

If you need drastic help tidying up your words, contact me at trish.anders@gmail.com with a description of your work and what sort of editing or critique you need. I'll get back to you with a quote post haste!

cheers - TrishA

2 comments:

Jackal said...

Good advice.

Joanne Walpole said...

I wish you could get this out to a really wide audience. I get fed up of seeing really good stuff (short stories and the like) that is proudly posted by authors and spoilt by typos, poor punctuation and bad spelling. I don't know whether it's bad education, laziness or over excitement, but it really annoys me. As far as I'm concerned, when you present something for public consumption it should be right or how can you expect to be taken seriously? Anyway, good job as always, Trish.
Jo