Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's Your Take (4)

This is week four for my new feature and I have to say everyone who has participated thus far has been awesome and really helped me define more about what this feature will be like and really it comes down to the title - What's Your Take. There are so many topics out there that all of you know about concerning the blogging network, publishing world, writing world, reading world. I love getting people's "takes," and so far I am learning a lot. Make sure to stop by every Thursday to see each week's feature and feel free to contact me to do a post! (Email Mf060784@gmail).

This week I am featuring a blogging friend AND a real life friend. Joe is just starting up his blog, is working on completeing his first manuscript, and is an avid, detailed reader. Today, he is going to be talking about editing, the first draft, in particular, MINE!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how to begin a guest post for a friend’s blog mostly because I’ve never guest posted before and, also, because I’m so new to blogging. I’ve decided to just post as if I was telling a story as part of a larger conversation. So here goes . . .

I was truly flattered when Michelle asked me to guest post on a topic of my choice from a list she created regarding the writing experience. My first challenge: what topic to pick? The list was replete with great topics to choose from, but what could I write about that would be interesting and possible for me to write about with some level of gravitas? I feel the list instantly became a short one, a very short one, with one topic standing out above the others. At this point in my writing life, I’m not exactly comfortable writing about my writing process in any way, shape, or form. However, I do feel really at ease writing about the editing process, more specifically, editing a friend’s work. I was fortunate enough to have experience doing just that for Michelle.

To say I was honored that Michelle trusted me to edit her novel is an understatement of colossal proportions. As a writer, I know how hard it is to let someone edit, let alone read, your work, so to be asked by a writer shows that he or she has trust in you. Trust that you will respect the work. Trust that you will offer constructive criticism. Trust that you will move the work forward. Trust that you will keep your yap shut and not spoil the novel for future readers. Trust that you won’t hijack the work as your own. Trust, I believe, is a large part of the editing process.

Okay, covered the trust aspect. What’s next? Oh yeah, the actual editing process.

My first step in editing is to always read the story first. I don’t look for spelling issues. I don’t look for grammatical snafus. I don’t even look for proper punctuation. I want to experience the story. I want to hear the narration in my noggin.  I want to meet characters and let them speak to me. In other words, I just want to be a reader.

My second step in editing is to ask myself some questions: How was the story? Did the narrative have flow? Were there any major plot holes? Did I fully understand character actions or inactions? Was there conflict? (Because every story needs conflict in some form.) If there was conflict, did I buy it? If there wasn’t conflict, how did the story move forward? Once I’ve asked myself these questions and many others, I usually jot down my answers as informal notes. Notes I will use as I read the work again.

As I’m sure you’ve figured, my third step is to read the story for the second time with my notes very, very close at hand. On my second read, I pay attention for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. making notations in the manuscript (Yeah, like a lot of editor/readers, I need a hardcopy) wherever I find an issue. However, I still keep the reader in me very active. I still want the experience of the story, I still want to hear the narration in my noggin, and I want to meet the characters again because I don’t want the editor in me to ruin what the reader enjoyed the first time through.

My fourth step is to read through the story one more time. This time through, I offer suggestions to the writer that said writer is free to take or ignore. What suggestions do I offer? Clarifications, possible names for characters, continuity corrections, additions to descriptions, and the list goes on, but I only have one guest post. I also make a point of letting the author know what I have enjoyed during my reading of his/her story. Writers need positive reinforcement as much as anyone else.

My final step in the editing process is to write a letter to the author. The letter provides an overview of what I liked/loved about the work, what I did in the editing process, and how much I hope I have helped move the work forward.

Of course, I need to mention that even though a work is edited, errors still manage to slip by unnoticed. Just proves that no one is perfect. Our brains tend to “autocorrect” some errors because the brain is too busy making meaning of the text. I’m sure that anyone reading this post can think of one example from a published work that has some editing glitch. It happens. The upside here: editing can continue to happen – especially in the digital publishing age.

Well, I hope this post was useful and interesting. Thank you, Michelle, for having me as a guest blogger and for all the other ways you support me as a writer and educator.

Thanks Joe! Ladies and Gents, if you want someone to edit your work, he's thorough and supportive and lets face it, having someone editing your work is terribly frustrating, and I felt very comfortable with his feedback. Pop over and see his blog. He just posted a review for Cinder. 

Remember, if you have a take on something, let me know what it is. Some possible topics are: current fads in reading, traditional publishing, query letters, getting followers, hosting giveaways, different writing processes, how you do your reviews, or anything. If you have something you feel strong about, let me know!


  1. Hi, I just wanted to say thanks again for having me as a guest blogger. It was a lot of fun and something I would happily do again in the future.

  2. I like this new feature, and what a fun guest post. Trust rreally is a large part of editing and it sounds like Joe does an amazing job. Wow, I love the thought and attention you put into it and that you read the work more than once. I definitely need to take some pointers from Joe when I do editing for other people...and he sounds like someone I'd want editing MY work too.


    1. I'm so glad you found my guest post interesting. Reading the story multiple times really does help the editing process. With Michelle's manuscript, reading was enjoyable each time through.

      Thank you for the compliment of wanting me to edit your work based on this post.