Self Editing Do or Don’t? And where to start

I say DO! I can list many reasons I self edited and self proofed my novel. While I did have some help it was not that of a professional. I am not anti-professional. By all means if you have the luxury of using a professional editor, go ahead. I would have loved the help of a professional editor. However not only can I not afford a professional, I also do not know any professionals who would have done the work for free. With that being said, that was my number one reason for editing my own novel. Some say the author is too close to the work to properly edit it. While I can understand, perhaps relate and maybe even agree with that thought, I still did not feel the need to hire an editor. Call me unconventional but I feel there are many ways to explore becoming a successful author.

Even if you choose to go with professional editing, the writer is responsible for making their work as neat and tidy, and well written as is possible. Spell checking, grammar and structure are just some of the things you have to look at before you can even begin to call a story or novel publish ready. Even though I always did well in English class, I still find I make common mistakes.  One big one for me was comma use. I used to add a comma after words like however, yet, and but. It was in prepping for my GED that I was taught when you use a word that means the same as a comma, or is a way to pause then you do not follow that word with a comma. To this day I almost add a comma after but or however…then I stop and remember my GED teacher and what I was taught.

Spell Check should always be where you start, even with self editing. Spell check can be your best friend. One wise piece of advice though, pay close attention and do not allow spell check to change a not so common word into a totally different word. (there’s always a dictionary) Spell check will also help with grammar and sentence structure. It will give you suggestions on words to change or other ways to change the sentence so it sounds better or flows more smoothly. My biggest advice for spell check:do not allow spell check or grammar suggestions actually change what you are trying to say.  While spell check and grammar functions are very helpful they can actually harm when the computer is suggesting a change that either does not actually make sense, or makes your sentence or words mean different from what they had.

Ok so let’s say you got through spell check without wanting to slap the program…what next? In all honesty…re-read, proofread your work once more. Make sure that your story reads the way you want it to and that spell check’s grammar options didn’t change things in a harmful manner. Even if you take a break from editing and work on another project, that’s ok. Sometimes you need to leave things be and come back to it with a clear head.

You did spell check, you survived it’s grammar suggestions…you proofread a second time…what now? Let someone read it. Rather that be one someone or ten someones, it needs to be read by others. Not only for the reader point of view but also because others will see mistakes you weren’t even aware you make/made.  They’ll find those errors where spell check allowed a word to slide because it’s an actual word yes but it made the sentence sound like nonsense. (this has happened to me so many times I did want to give spell check a good shaking haha!)

Once you’ve allowed someone else to read and hopefully suggest editing fixes or maybe even other ways to improve your story, make the changes needed to improve the work. Be honest with yourself and make changes you know it needs. This doesn’t mean change it in ways that makes it something you don;t wish the story to be. It means do what is necessary to make it publish ready.

One part of editing I find that I do a lot of is going back over a story and seeing how I can re word things that I may have originally worded unclear or not as crisp as it should be.  I think all writers do one thing the same, we tend to write fast when ideas hit, we don;t look back and the enter key keeps going like the energizer bunny.  We don’t stop to edit, we make those common mistakes and sometimes we don’t even see it when proofreading.  Our minds have a way of correcting the error without us actually correcting it on the page. For example, when typing a sentence may become “I cannot tell you who many times I have made that mistake.” While spell check/grammar will overlook the mistake of “who” instead of “how” it’s also possible for our brain to overlook that mistake. But the point is that your reader will most likely catch the mistake. Numerous times my husband has caught typos that spell check allowed and that I did not realize were there.

So you think you’re done? Perhaps you are and your story is ready to publish.  I say perhaps, because when I went back to “A Killer’s Saga” after it had been stored away for a long time, I not only found things i wished to change to make it sound better but also some major changes to make it into a story that truly holds to me and my personality. I found that I’m very comfortable writing erotica and wanted to meld that into a story I was already very proud of, already very attached to. And now that same story is one that holds true to how I feel it should have been written from day one. So sometimes give a story some shelf time. Set it aside and when you come back to it after that shelf time, read it again. Make sure you’re honestly happy with it and that it’s truly your best work. Then work on publishing.

Happy self editing! If you have any comments, or questions, positive feedback is always welcomed.

Reworking Characters and Plots

In my last post I mentioned reworking characters and even plots when it’s needed.  You might be sitting there thinking oh my God I’ve put countless and possibly even painstaking hours creating my book/story thus far. I’ve been there, done that and can honestly say, sometimes revision is key to making your story the best it’s ever going to be. Some things can be reworked so easily. Maybe you worded something one way and at a later time you looked back on it and said to yourself, this doesn’t make sense now, or I could word that so much better. I have.  In proofing and editing my novel, I spent many hours reworking a lot of it to finally make the novel what I felt it should be. Why did I rework it? Was it not good enough? In some small ways it needed to be made better yes. We all grow as we age and we learn better methods as writers. I found out after many times of re-reading my novel that there were things I looked at naively or things I simply was naive about when the book was originally written out from my initial ideas.  So for my book, no it wasn’t good enough yet. I also decided before publication of “A Killer’s Saga,” that it was going to become erotic fiction.  With that being said, that meant reworking love scenes and even adding some. Spicing some scenes up and even adding some new ones. And I can honestly say it was more than worth it to go back and revise, add on and better my work.

Ok so with all that decided did i rework characters or plots? Actually yes, to both.  Jordan became a little more adventurous sexually. She opened herself up to being more wild and carefree.  Why did I change her this way and how did I do it? Why was easy, on a whim I got the idea that she would live a little wild with Alex and do things she never thought she would.  Nothing major, just having sex in a public place, and allowing her relationship with Alex to take front importance on rare occasion, even coming before her career to a point.  I felt it was important to make someone become more important to Jordan seeing as being a detective had become “workaholic” serious to her. I felt there was nothing wrong with showing even this all too serious and business like gal could throw back and be a fun sensitive, and warm lover and friend. So while I didn’t fully rework Jordan, I made a small change that I felt made her more human and even more likable.

I’ve found as I grow as a writer so are my characters and the world they live in. Especially because A Killer’s Saga is the first in a series. My husband has become a great help with proofing, editing and even character growth. He inspired changes that will take place with Josh. While I haven’t begun to rework Josh, again it’s nothing I need to fret over. I made a decision concerning him and all I need to do is implement it.

Reworking Plots

As I mentioned above, I also reworked a plot.  It was due to my husband’s help that I realized I had been too repetitious with my serial killer and her pattern of where to go when she wished to lure Jordan in.  This meant a somewhat serious rewrite.  I had to rework the full end to the book. Some elements could stay in place, while the repeating needed to go.  What can I say?  I was about 19 when I came up with the idea for the series and spent many sleepless nights penning (yes paper and pen back then) all the ideas and storyline I could before I lost ideas.  Just like I’m sure a lot of other writers do, I get attached to my stories and characters.  So I wasn’t looking forward to a rewrite (one I felt was a major rewrite.)  But it HAD to be done.  I’m stubborn. No way I wanted to rework it. Not because I didn’t want to make it better.  But because the thought of reworking it made my brain hurt.  I could have left the piece alone, could have left it repetitive and still published it just like that. (seeing as I self published.) Yet I knew in my heart I couldn’t leave it that way.  I had worked on this novel for ten years if not longer.  I knew also the novel may take harsh criticism with the original ending.

How did I rework it?  How did I get it finished even though my brain said “this is a pain and too much work,”? I forced myself.  Yup forced.  I went over what could stay about the chapter needing reworked, and what needed to go. That was the simple part. Then there was coming up with a whole new last climatic scene. I wholeheartedly advise letting someone read your work as well as even help you brainstorm.  Yes this is your baby, yes you created it from ground up. But you will be amazed how well another person’s input can work in a positive way. It was in brainstorming the new plot with my hubby that I had found the new ending. It wasn’t as hard as I had convinced my brain it was gonna be. I simply had to find a setting and scene that worked with what foundation had been laid. It may have been a major rewrite because location of the scene needed changing and organization of the scene needed reworked. The actual end wasn’t changed in the sense that the key elements were still there. It was a take-down of the our bad guy (girl in this case) scene. Most of the rework really was the locale. The only major change to the end was in the sense our killer didn’t use her calling cards to lure Jordan in for a chase scene.  It turned more classic.

Does Jordan bring the killer to justice? Did my rewrite work out for the best? You tell me.  Feel free to check out “A Killer’s Saga.” Link below.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/389973

 

Editing

I have been editing work for others via literotica and am finding I quite enjoy editing. I feel reading other people’s work also helps to refresh my love of reading, writing and just the passion of the written word overall. I’ve always loved helping others and to be able to take that to the point of editing is a new thing for me. Editing my own work came from the need to keep cost down and still be able to publish my work, my way. That’s not to say paying someone to edit your work is the wrong way to go…because it’s not for those who have the needs and/or cannot edit for theirself. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for professional help. And I will definitely be humble enough to say they get paid to do something they have a far greater knowledge in. With that being said, that’s not to say all is lost if you cannot afford a professional editor. And for me I felt the need to go ahead and put myself out there and help the best I can.

Loving editing 🙂