Friday, March 28, 2008

The Power of Editing

Writing Tip of the Day: March 28, 2008
Never resist editing, because your writing isn't etched in stone
and can always be improved for the reader.

When I put words to a page, whether handwritten or keyed into a Word Doc, I work merely to extract my thoughts and put them into some semblence of order. Editing is the next logical step in making oneself understood. I edit first, to make sure the storyline is clear. And second, for how a reader comprehends. There are times I want my prose bold and/or straightforward. Other times I wish it to remain cryptic.

I have also characters [The Ancients] whose voices go well beyond the average sixth grade reading level and I do not wish to them dumbed down. This is when I share snippets. I need to get the feel for someone else's perception. I will either understand and agree with their point of view or disagree entirely. And to me that simply means, I need make myself better understood. I then re-edit accordingly.

Though many write first for themselves, making sure a reader actually reads past the first few paragraphs, is in the power of the edit.

There are two problems in this area I acknowledge and need to overcome. One is I share my snippets too soon. Had I left them alone for a few days, revisited them with fresh eyes and more editing, I could have avoided certain critiques and not wasted someone else's precious time on less significant errors.

Problem number two: In nearly every early draft of my Forbidden World Chronicles storyline, I he/she'd my numerous characters all over the place and offer up their true names only during subsequent edits. I then work to ensure a balance and use of proper names and pronouns.

What's the trouble? I've pulled old files in order to find a scene I've already addressed, and while reading found I had absolutely no idea who was talking. I worked knowing who it was that talked, and wrote solely by what he or she did or said. I have since realized, on more than one occasion, I may never recover the exact character's identity. I will surely work on a safegaurd.

With the advent of web logs, the power of editing is most important when bloggers service their readers with feeds to subscribe to updates. I risk losing readership with duplicative or unwarranted strings of notices generated by my not finding or correcting an error only after I updated.

Say I update a new post to Soul Echoes and see an error while I view it 'in a new window.' Immediately, I go back and edit the misspelled word or spacing, and then re-publish. Is another e-mail generated to my faithful readers? A few blogs I subscribe to have the post in the body of the e-mail. If they rely solely on the email, they will read my error(s). If I'm luckier, they will click on the link and read the corrected version.

With all that posed, here is a good, more modern day, web-related axiom by which to live; [as offered by Devon Ellington. See Ink in my Coffee, The Scuffy Dog Review, Mystic Lit]

"Revise before you post."

At very least, make it a regular practice and utilize the blog editor's Preview function.

One final thought.

I'm not really sure how reasonable this is, but~~ As I drafted this post, the following occurred to me. If we had only the briefest of moments to make ourselves understood, and but one sheet of paper to capture the most important of our thoughts, with equally limited time to edit, what might those words be?

For me, that's another post!

Thank you for visiting and sharing my thoughts,

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