Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Can I proofread and edit my own work?!

I've heard proofing and editing my own work is impossible!

Well ... not impossible. Just more difficult! When you're editing for someone else, it's easy to be ruthless. You 'prune' wherever you see something that needs to be snipped. You're not in love with every word in this chapter, and what needs to be done seems obvious, often painfully so. However, writing as a freelance, editing your own work will require some discipline.

There is a good chance you are in love with every word in the chapter you're editing, and you know the saying ... love is blind. It can be hard to see faults in our own work, though they fairly 'jump off the page' to someone else. (Which is the up-side to using a professional freelance editing service.) See the sidebar to your right for career-changing, guru-like guidance!

At this point, you come to a personal decision, and it can be another epiphany.

If you're aspiring to be a professional writer, you'll need to slither past the natural love affair you have with your material. Step back to get a new perspective. See it through someone else's eyes.

It can be a right, royal pain to put a line through what you've written, find other words to express what you mean, delete a whole scene, ditch a lot of dialog. However, if this kind of freelance editing is what it takes to bring your manuscript up to full professional standard and earn you some good money, it's unavoidable, and highly desirable.

Here's the kicker. Industry professionals (publishers, editors, veteran writers) can see every fault the instant they look at a text. It's an 'eye' for words, which some people have naturally and others have to work at. This quality, the ability to perform freelance editing unconsciously, on-the-fly, is like hearing a melody and being able to whistle along with it.

Believe it or not, a fair percentage of human beings can't hear melody! They're said to be 'tone deaf,' it's a medically diagnosable condition. (Which might explain why a good deal of modern music actually has no melodic line; it appeals to the surprisingly large section of the population who can't hear a tune.)

Professional writers have what's been called a 'built-in, automatic crap detector,' which turns on the moment they begin to write, and acts like a filter for all kinds of materials. Bad grammar, poor sentence construction, ambiguous wording, incorrectly used words, repeated words, 'purple light words,' over-writing, under-writing, melodramatics, unintentional humor, run-on sentences, and 'sudden death' material ... all gets filtered out either as soon as it's typed, or before the fingers hit the keys! This is freelance editing on autopilot.

IMPORTANT: Don't be perturbed by unfamiliar concepts in the paragraph above. They might sound odd, scary and confusing now, but in an hour you'll be familiar with them all. Some, you'll recognize. Some might make you stop and think, and perhaps take another look at your own work. And maybe you'll feel the tingle of an epiphany coming on! The freelance editing wizard inside you is beginning to turn on.

Even if you can't 'pick the tune' at once when it comes to being able to tell good writing from poor, don't be anxious. There are two ways to approach this. If Plan A is out of reach, fall back on Plan B.

Plan A is about natural, born writers who can pick the tune so easily, for most of their writing careers, they 'play by ear.' They're like a singer or musician who can't read music, has no idea what s/he's playing or singing, yet fronts for a band and gets massive applause.

If you're among these writers, you've probably been getting rave reviews from friends and family for years. They're exhorting you to 'go pro.' You might even have tried ... you might also have failed. The reason is, a writer 'playing by ear' is prone to let fiddling little errors slip through. Professional editors easily pick them up. The editor will weigh the sparkle of your work (and if you're a born writer, it'll always sparkle) against the amount of editing needed to bring you up to publication standard. They look at outsourced freelance editing as time, then convert time to money — and you get a rejection slip instead of the contract you were praying for.

It's still very possible for a natural, born writer to get published. But it's by no means easy or certain, and it would be fair to say that the road to publication will be liberally papered with rejection letters, even for natural-borns.

So ... Plan B: Not being a natural, you need to (figuratively) learn to read music. Even if you only play the piano with one finger, you can tap out the tune and learn it, note by note. It just takes a little longer than being able to hear the melody a couple of times, and then promptly play it.

Writing (and the freelance editing which goes hand in hand with writing) is exactly like this, for a great many people. Having to learn the process doesn't mean you can't do it. It just means you'll play 'catch up' while the naturals romp it. (However, the 'by ear' writers are often working with a handicap they're not even aware of. Those little errors slip through and accumulate, and the end result is still a rejection slip. Take heart: you can to better than catch up. You can actually overtake them.)

There's a gray area in which writers who are on the top rungs of the amateur league tend to languish for some time. It's a twilight zone where these writers are the best of the bunch in their writers' workshop, APA, or class ... yet they don't make the transition to professional. You've seen it happen; you wonder if it'll happen to you.

These writers don't make the transition for any one of several reasons. Some writers are quite happy to be amateurs. They don't need to write for money. It's a fantastic hobby, and they don't feel 'driven' to get to grips with the world of pro publishers, freelance editors, reviewers. Other writers would love to turn pro, but they suspect they don't quite have the skills ... and they're simply too lazy to invest the effort, and learn.

A third group refuse to believe they have anything to learn. They know they're the best, and they have fits if anyone 'puts one sticky finger' on a word they write (unquote!) Such writers might be very good indeed, but it's a thousand-to-one against them getting professionally published without being edited, and since they don't want to confront editors -- they don't submit professionally. Their love affair with their material, which causes them to guard every syllable, is maintaining their amateur status. (Freelance editors would be creatures from their worst nightmares. Again — see the sidebar to your right!)

A large group of writers are extremely good, and willing to learn, do submit ... and still fail to make the transition. Some can't deal with rejection slips, and in the early days, rejection notices are a fact of life. Someone one said, 'You have to develop a thick skin.' Line the budgie cage with your rejection slips, and press on.

Other writers genuinely have nothing fresh to contribute, and they probably know it! To get published, you need determination, skill, and something fresh to say.

It's perfectly true that there are no new stories. They have all been told, and most of them have been told a thousand times over. The trick is to find a new spin to put on old material. Have a look at Eregon ... in fact, it's Star Wars dressed up as Lord of the Rings. It's also incredibly popular. (In turn, Star Wars has so much in common with both The Three Musketeers and Lord of the Rings that, if you need it, here's the proof. There's no such thing as a new story! However you can put such a fresh spin on an old one, readers and viewers are delighted.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

The commercial break ... there has to be a commercial break!