Thursday, December 24, 2009

Writing Commandment # 5 Thou Shall Edit!

Put your reading glasses on kiddies, this is major!

All you NaNo-ers who hit fifty thousand words,actually got your entire story out, give yourself a pat on the back. Now, repeat after me. "This is when the hard work begins."

That 50K plus you wrote is what my friend,Saranna DeWylde, calls a dirty draft. Why dirty, because it's full of errors. Whether this was your first NaNoWriMo or your tenth, it doesn't change the fact that your month of hard work means nothing until you spit shine it til it gleams in the sunlight.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, I beg you not to submit that bad Larry at least until February. Why? The last time I checked, agents and editors hated NaNoWriMo because they are flooded every December with an inbox full of dirty drafts. You make all the rest of us who have polished and shined for months or years look bad too.

These are the people who will (hopefully) make our life's work pay off. Don't send them a novel which is the equivalent to a love letter penned on a Denny's Menu. You just look like the drunken slob out muching greasy fries until the plumber's butt crack of dawn who doesn't put any real thought into his actions. Who takes that guy seriously? Not I said the little red hen, cluck cluck.

So how to avoid looking like aforementioned loser? EDIT, my friend!
Now to clarify, there are several different kinds of editing.

BETA READERS: Are freaking invaluable. They are your pals who will look at your dirty draft and tell you where the plot holes/ consistency errors occur. Like when the one story house magically grows stairs. Or when the hero's eyes change from brown to green. They can also tell you when something just doesn't work for them, i.e your hero turns into a spineless blowhard and the reader wants to hit him with a baseball bat. You probably want to know all this.
Do you need to take every suggestion? Absolutely not, it is your story after all. But if you have two or three readers saying the same thing just didn't work for them, you might take it under advisement.

PROOFREADING: Is when you sit down to read over your draft to make sure it is coming across the way in which you intended.That the plot progresses in a seamless and logical manner. Here you might do a little COPY EDITING
but make sure you know the rules before you break 'em! My best friend and A #1 Beta Reader Amy, has been hammering the "Don't end a sentence on a preposition," idea into my gray matter. Now it bugs me whenever I read a book and the author ends a sentence with to, of, at. Next time you read a book or watch a movie look for it, it's an ignored rule most of the time, but it still exists.

There is always an exception. Say you are writing a moonshine making, uneducated, gun-toting lunatic who didn't make it past the third grade. She is allowed to ask "Where's he at?"

Might even make the reader accept the character.

As my editor at Wild Child Publishing sends out in her standard editing help for new contracts note. "Eyes cannot drop, follow, or dart. At least we hope they can’t....Eyes cannot drop, follow, or dart. Her eyes darted from him to the door and back.Short of popping out of her head, her eyes can’t literally dart anyway. However, her gaze can.
Her gaze darted from him to the door and back."
Very wise words and yet another common foul up.

Check out the autocrit site (Link on the left under best sites for writers.) A fantastic site, I use it all of the time!Editing and proofing for others has helped me notice my own common errors all the more and consequently allowed me to tighten up my writing. The stuff I churn out now is far stronger than three years ago. You can wager that it won't hit an editor's desk until it passes muster with me and at least one beta.

2 comments:

  1. I must confess, I do pop out my characters' eyes to dart, follow and meet all of the time. I get tired of saying gaze. It can only penetrate and pin for so long until you're bored. I am a bad, bad rule breaker. Of course, you know this because you're my most awesome and talented beta. *g*

    This is all great advice! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. You might have noticed, I do correct that, but as I stated above it's your story, do what you want! I was totally ignorant to the literal thought behind it until it was pointed out to me. Now I can't seem to stop myself from fixing it.

    And Hag one had several sentences ending in a preposition, so I guess that goes to show that these rules like me are a total WIP ;-)

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