Editing: Do It, and Do It Right

Posted: 16th June 2014 by Jason Kristopher in On Writing, The Craft
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If you are, or intend to be, a ‘serious writer,’ then you must learn to edit – or, at the very least, hire someone to do it for you.

What do I mean by ‘serious writer’? Just what it says on the tin: you are a writer who takes your job – writing – seriously. I’ve met several authors, some of whom are traditionally published, some of whom are indie, who’ve said, and this is a direct quote, “Oh, I don’t edit my work. It’s art.”

Sorry, what?

Yes, I agree that writers are artists. Thoreau (I think) said it best, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit at the typewriter and open a vein.” Yes, we’re all artists, in that we put our heart and soul and passion and energy and whatever else into our work and create something no one has seen before (hopefully). But that doesn’t mean it just happens by accident! Writing in particular takes work, takes refinement, takes care and effort and boundless patience.

I have ZERO interest in reading anything by someone who doesn’t care enough about their own work to see that it ends up in its best form… and that’s really what editing is, isn’t it? Honing your rough-cut gem into a sparkling jewel for everyone to see. Which would you rather buy for your jewelry? A gem that was just dug from the ground, or a polished, beautiful jewel? Exactly. Editing is the same way.

David Gaughran – an author known for his books Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible, as well as the South American historical novel A Storm Hits Valparaiso, had Harry Bingham stop by his blog with some more words of wisdom on editing. From the post:

…you need to employ the right suite of professionals too. My forthcoming novel, which is being conventionally published, will have had several reads from my literary agent, a 6,000-word editorial report from my editor at Orion, some further comments from my editor in the US, a professional copy-edit, my own revision of that copyedit, and then very careful proofreading, probably by two sets of eyes, as well as my own.

Now THAT is how you edit a book. And no, it doesn’t matter that his novel is conventionally published. The point is, as he says, “…you yourself need to care enough about your book.” Remember, this is something that has your name (or your pseudonym) all over it. Don’t you want to be proud of it? Knowing that you polished it until it shone, rather than leaving it dull and listless, is a priceless part of the process.

There’s a lot more great advice in the post. So go read “Edit Like a Pro” and let me know what you thought!

  1. TAWilliams says:

    “Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit at the typewriter and open a vein.”
    Dear god that is accurate 🙂

    Great post and I agree, if the person won’t take the time & put in the work to edit the book I won’t take the time to read it.

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