Thursday, March 3, 2016
If something works, it works. By Diane Bator
Writers love words.
We love them so much, in fact, that we cram as many of them into one sentence, sometimes without really saying anything or being extraordinarily superfluous with our vocabulary to the point no one understands what we just said.
That's where a great editor comes in.
No matter how experienced the writer, everyone needs a second or even a third set of eyes to read through their work and clean up the extra words, the flow of the timelines, and even the typos spell check doesn't pick up. Sorry, writers, spell check isn't perfect either.
Many publishing houses have their own editors and a traditionally published author may go through several different edits before their work is published. Even Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have editors.
For a lot of beginning writers, especially those of us who do not have an English degree, and people who self-publish, editing is just as daunting and can create anxiety in our stomachs. Where do we start when there is no editor who will not cost us a mortgage on a small house?
Critique groups are a great place to start. Find an online forum. Find a Facebook group. Make connections. Before you trust anyone with your baby, aka your novel, be sure to read a sample of their work. Even if you're not a great editor, you should be able to read and understand their work as well as pick up on errors, grammatical and otherwise.
Writing groups can be local or online as well. Many of these groups offer critiques from group members. Just remember to take their input with the proverbial grain of salt. Not all the advice people give will be helpful, some will be more than willing to help hone your piece, some will be happy to simply tear it apart until you want to give up and crawl into a cave with something stronger than sugar in your coffee.
If you let several people read your work and several people make similar suggestions, be open to re-reading and editing. On the other hand, if only one or two people point something out, it may just be their own personal preference and making changes will be up to you and not vital.
Unless they're family.
Word of advice, don't give copies of your work to your entire family and expect a positive, good critique. Not unless Uncle Bill is an editor for a major daily or works for a publishing house. Expect kind words and to hear how great it is. That doesn't mean it is. A neutral third party is always best.
Good editors and critique providers abound on the internet. Just keep in mind, you not only get what you pay for, but you still have the final say about what you end up publishing.
Writing guru Natalie Goldberg gives the best advice on editing your work: "Be willing to look at your work honestly. If something works, it works. If it doesn't, quit beating an old horse. Go on writing. Something else will come up."
Just never give up!
You can find my Wild Blue Mystery series on Amazon and through Books We Love. My books can also be ordered into any bookstore in Canada.