Editing is a process not to be taken lightly. Sometimes I look forward to this process because that means the manuscripts is almost done, but other times I dread it like a shot in the arm. But it’s a process that if you don’t do it you’ll regret it, believe me.
I talked with a fellow Indie author one day about editing. She said the only thing she does is run spell check and grammar check. I was horrified. Can anyone say “Oh my goodness”? That’s what I said and then I sat down with her and we had a long talk. I then picked up her finished manuscript and when I was finished reading it there was more red than black. She was shocked and mortified. She now goes through a detailed editing process.
When I finish a manuscript I always step back for a day or two before I even start editing. That way I’m not too excited to do what I need to do. When I start I always run the spell and grammar checks just to get rid of those pesky extra spaces, oopsy words (you know the ones) and the bad grammar that always follows a wild writing marathon. This helps to make the editing process go a little smoother, but only a little.
Then comes the fun part, I sit down and read the manuscript. Have you ever read over your finished manuscript and wondered at what point you lost your whole brain? Well I have. The things I’ve done while writing amaze me. I know I took english and writing in college, but sometimes when I read my own writing I laugh out loud. Where the heck did that come from? Surely I didn’t write that sentence.
Have you ever changed a characters name mid book? Come on, don’t be shy. Well, I’ll admit to doing that on a couple of occasions. I was reading a manuscript the other day and a minor character went from Betty to Betsy. I had to read the chapter over again to make sure I hadn’t fired the housekeeper in the previous chapter. But alas, no, she should have stayed Betty. Easy fix, not hardly, but it was taken care of by the nice little editing tool called “FIND”.
Now as you are the writer, do make sure that someone other than your closest friend reads it too. My editor is my niece, but let me tell you she can be strict. I have been working and felt someone boring a hole in my head. She’d be staring at me like I’d grown two heads. Then she’d point out something totally off the wall that I typed. She has asked me several times if I was drinking something stronger than hot tea as I was writing.
Let me give you some honest advice from someone who learned this the hard way. If you don’t want to spend the money for a professional editor then please find several people who will be brutally honest and let them read it. You can’t do it yourself. It’s your baby and you don’t want to change a thing. Believe me, nobody writes a perfect manuscript from the get go, NOBODY! I was reading a NYT bestselling book the other night and I felt pretty good with some of my errors. There in black and white was some really big goofs that had not been caught. It happens people, so get over it and try to do better.
As always, good writing and May God Bless You…