Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Writers Craft Online: Self-Editing Is A Must

Today Eric Forbes, Senior Editor at MPH, shares his thoughts about the importance of self-editing.

You must learn and develop self-editing skills. Most writers lack self-editing skills.

Make sure you proofread and edit your typescript to an acceptable standard before sending it off to an editor or publisher for evaluation.

Most writers tend to send their typescripts without polishing them up, hoping that their editors will clean everything up for them once they are accepted for publication. The fact is, most editors will just ignore the typescript and go on to the next one.

Pay attention to your grammar and punctuation; tone down on circumlocutions writing, the use of big words and overly long or dense paragraphs; avoid clichés at all costs; spellcheck the typescript and use consistent spelling (American or British) throughout your typescript; etc.

Remember what Isaac Babel said about punctuation: “No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a full-stop in the right place.” You should spend more time on punctuation because that’s where writers are usually weak at.

There’s nothing wrong with checking up on the basics of punctuation. Good punctuation brings clarity and makes writing more powerful. Read up on the basics of grammar if you have forgotten the rules of grammar. Or consult someone who is good at it. But then, if you call yourself a writer, you had better be good at it.

Doing your best is simply not good enough. You have got to go beyond. Joan Didion, the author of The Year of Magical Thinking, once confessed that it often took her a whole morning just to write a single paragraph to her satisfaction. What can I say, writing is hard work.

Eric also blogs. Visit Eric Forbes's Book Addict's Guide To Good Books


The Chair Speaks said...

Absolutely correct!

Mishkat said...

Very good advice! I'd also add that I have a lot of trouble editing my own work unless I print the manuscript out and read it though that way. I'm not sure if this applies to everyone, but it seems to help me look at it with new eyes.

Cezar and Léia said...

Very interesting post dear Ellen!
Have a great week!
Luna - We love Luna

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Most editors (of magazines, newspapers and small-time publishing houses) in Malaysia need lessons in editing, wouldn't you agree? I would not trust them to edit my manuscript.

The Oceanside Animals said...

I'd recommend the book "Self-Editing For Fiction Writers" as well. I found it quite useful when I was getting started.