Notes From a Twenty Year Almost Career. The guest musings of Indie Author Terrance Foxxe
Proofreading is tedious. Editing is hard.
Yes it is.
I used to write a story and be done with it. Well, doing it that way makes for a bad story.
Before I edit a story for the first time I let it rot in a drawer for as many months as I need to forget my story. When I pull my story out for the first time, I’m looking at it with new and fresh eyes.
The miracle that is new and fresh eyes! You have no idea how formidable on your ego it is to look at your own hard work with new and fresh eyes. Words that work jump out at you and inflates your pride. Linguistic bombs detonating in your face inflates your sense of stupidity.
I may repeat this process as often or as little as needed. Only I know when I’m done, and I’m done when each novel reads as good if not better than what you find coming out of the big six, mainstream publishing houses. 150% effort to be the best, 99.8% mistake free. A professional read.
You ever labor over a paper, getting everything perfect, set it down, come back to it, look down and see a typo you swear to God was not there an hour ago? It took a while, but I finally figured out what does that. Your brain. My brain, too.
How? Your eye takes in thousands of bits of information each and every second. Your brain processes the information into your reality, but there are always gaps in the information you receive. Your brain automatically fills in those gaps. It gives you continuity.
A wonderful gift, continuity. It keeps you sane. Unless you happen to be a writer. Then what your brain has been doing all of your life seems to work against you. Insidious, isn’t it?
Here’s a tip I’ll pass along to you, dear reader. You can break up the continuity your brain uses to give you that annoying typo when you least expect it. Yes, you too can learn to outsmart nature.
EDIT IN REVERSE!
Start with the last paragraph first. It works amazingly well. I find I can concentrate on individual sentences, every mark of punctuation, catch every typo and grammar gaffe. It takes practice.
Editing in reverse also gives you a very good idea when to kill them babies you suffered through. What I mean by this are sentences that read good when you were constructing the story, but now read poorly when you edit in reverse. Sentences or words that are stuck into your story like a pencil stuck into your eye. Delete them. In fact, if you have a three thousand word story, pretend your job is to cut three hundred words out of it. That’s story, minus ten percent. You’ll have a better story in your hands when you’re done. Even if all you managed to cut were a hundred words, you will have a better story.
When you proofread, you want every sentence constructed to say what you mean. Every comma and period in place. Every single word spelled right. The right word used (affect or effect) for the meaning you intend. That takes practice.
Knowledge and practice, that is. That again is where reading for fun and self-education comes in handy. Let other writer’s published works teach you writing that works.
Again, a good book on editing is: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Illustrations by George Booth. Subtitled: How To Edit Yourself Into Print. Harper Perennial.
Terrance Foxxe is crazy enough to share everything he knows about catering to readers, because readers matter most to the Indie Author of today, and tomorrow. He had two books published under his real name, only to discover publishers really suck. After being royally ripped off and then some, he is the Indie Author of A Post-apocalyptic Story of Love,$2.99 USD & In The Dreaming, $0.99, both for the Kindle. Links provided. He’s now a happy man. Buy his books. Read them. Write reviews.
He blogs at http://terrancefoxxe.blogspot.com/