Monday, October 31, 2011

Embracing editing

Last call for the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (click here)!

I've heard some conversations about the writing and publication process where the discussion of editing revolved around punctuation.

The fact is, I regard punctuation corrections as the least important part of editing. If there's one thing the copy-editing process taught me, it's that nobody seems to understand the proper use of commas except other copy editors. And although I thank my copy editors for correcting the 90% of the cases where I misused and abused Our Friend the Noble Comma*, I'm especially grateful for the times they caught me saying the same thing twice, or contradicting myself.

But there's another whole facet to editing, and it precedes copy editing. It's the kind of editing where someone questions uneven pacing, extraneous characters, pointless subplots, drawn-out endings, abrupt endings, missing character motivations, and so many other aspects of macro-level story-telling. This is the kind of editing that beginning writers may dread, or may think they don't need. But in my experience, this kind of editing is what brings a story to the next level, and it can be an actual pleasure. Because it's all about making the book better in fundamental ways.

I firmly believe that readers will forgive misplaced commas sooner than they will forgive a plot thread that doesn't go anywhere, or a character who has no reason for being in the story, or an inciting event that takes too long to arrive. And it is very difficult for writers to identify these kinds of flaws in our own stories, because we inhabit our imaginary worlds so fully. Editors bring fresh eyes and objectivity to the process. They do much, much more than rearrange punctuation.

*Don't even ask about the carnage I inflicted upon Our Friend the Noble Hyphen.

A few announcements:

I'll be on an authors' panel on Tuesday, November 1, at 7 PM. The topic is "GETTING PUBLISHED." It's at the Cherry Hill (NJ) Library (1100 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034-1911 ).  My fellow panelists will be Jon Gibbs, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kristin Battestella,  Mike McPhail and Jonathan Maberry of the New Jersey Authors Network.

Children's Book World, Haverford, PA is having its annual author/illustrator night on Friday, November 4, 8-9 PM. It's a great chance to meet and talk with authors and illustrators, have some snacks, get some books signed. The atmosphere is always festive and casual.

A YA e-anthology, The First Time, appeared today. It contains stories by several writers I know and love: Cyn Balog, Lauren Bjorkman, Leigh Brescia, Jennifer Brown, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Janet Gurtler, Teri Hall, Cheryl Renee Herbsman, Stacey Jay, Heidi R. Kling, C. Lee McKenzie, Saundra Mitchell, Jenny Moss, Jackson Pearce, Shani Petroff, Carrie Ryan, Sydney Salter, Kurtis Scaletta, Jon Skovron, Kristina Springer, Rhonda Stapleton, Charity Tahmaseb, Jessica Verday, J. A. Yang, and Lara Zielin. Check it out! Only $2.99 on Amazon.


  1. I'll see you tonight at the Cherry Hill Library.

    Oh editing. When my critique partner and I started working together, it was all copy editing. And we loved each other. It's been years since then, and now, the edits are more on a macro level, and my partner and I waver between loving and hating each other at regular intervals. But, we see each other through. I think one of the greatest resources a writer could have is a trustworthy critique/editing partner.

  2. Yes. Yes. And Yes. When I first started writing, I believed I was editing/revising when all I was really doing was proofreading. Thankfully I got connected early with an astute critique group and then a few savvy beta readers.

  3. Great seeing you, Mieke!
    And the ability to separate the person from the book is valuable in a critique partnership.

    Angelina: That's why I like to critique full manuscripts. For me, it's like looking at the foundation before I start worrying about the color of the window trim.