This week on The Blood-Red Pencil, Shon Bacon asked the readers how they prepare to edit. It made me stop and think about my editing process.
As I thought about the question, it occurred to me that, I believe, editing someone else's work is easier than editing my own. And it's not because I don't have a stake in the other author's work. Actually, I do. I want to help the author make the manuscript the best book it can be. I want to hold the published book in my hand and be excited about its publication.
It's easier because, basically, I didn't write it. When I start reading, I have no idea what will happen as the story evolves. I have no clue what the finale will be. I don't know the characters or their backgrounds or their relationships. Therefore, lots of things that would slip by the author stand out to me. I catch them -- or hopefully I note the majority of them.
Shon also asked what kind of environment editors set up before they begin to work.
I have to have quiet -- no music, no distractions. Around my house that means I often have to close the door to my office. I've even been known to wear headphones.
I usually take a break about every hour - to stretch, get something to eat if I'm hungry, refill my water glass, or go outside to see the sun -- or all of the above.
I not only make comments on the document itself, I make notes for me on a notepad.
Once I've read through the manuscript, I let it sit -- at least over night before I begin the second or third read-through.
For me, editing for others involves an almost clinical approach. I can't get caught up in the words or plot too much or I could read thirty pages before I realized I hadn't been paying "editorial" attention. By the third reading, I can let go and not read word for word, but read for the overall feeling of the book.
How do you edit your own work?
3 months ago