Grace's Mosaic Moments

Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Joys of Editing

Next Mosaic Moments - February 27, 2021 


This week's smile-makers . . .


Ganesh, playing statue


Susie & friends went fossicking by kayak last week . . .


All this from along the upper reaches of the Peace River; i.e., sharks' teeth in the middle of the state! (Clearly proving the whole of Florida was once under water.)


Florida February sunset - photo by Susie



As I tackled the final edits of Book 2 of the Matthew Wolfe series, I was once again reminded how much I enjoy editing. Yes, I love the initial creation of all those characters, their personalities, the situations I drop them into. But I get so carried away, I often forget to describe what they look like. I ignore the necessity of painting a vivid picture of the setting for their activities. I am so caught up in what's coming next that I leap from one scene to the next without proper set-up. I leave motivation to the reader's imagination. And all too often my fingers type one word when I mean another. (Just this morning I found a "grown" in place of "groan." Sigh.)

Which is why I love editing. It gives me a chance to fix all these things - including the complete non sequitur that I can't even imagine how it made its way onto the page. Seriously, there are some authors (like Nora Roberts and Lindsay Buroker) who are so prolific they must get their work 99% correct on the first try, but most of us have to work a lot harder to make our work sing.

Since publishing Making Magic With Words, I have been very sparing of my Writing and Editing advice, but some things are worth repeating as many times as it takes to jam the point home. 

Cardinal Rule - Before editing, do not fail to use that technical miracle, Spell Check. (I often forget to mention this as it's so basic. (I run Spell Check after every chapter, again after every edit.) It constantly amazes me that some authors fail to do this.

Edit hard copy or online? Being old school, I do my best work editing hard copy with a pencil, writing Inserts with a pen. But that's just me. (Interestingly, I edit other people's work online with no difficulty.) Do whatever works best for you - as long as you edit!

Most important of all -  We must accept that our first draft is not perfect. Each word from our fingers is NOT sacrosanct.

Here are a few things to look for.

1.  (a) Some write too little and need to embellish their work; (b) others obscure their story in too much detail or by taking unnecessary side trips. Example:  As an (a) author, each time I edit, I add far more words than I subtract. 

2.  You need to edit line by line, never skipping a scene even though you're certain it was perfect the moment it came off your hot little fingers. 

3.  Did you include enough set-up for the scene you just wrote? Do your readers know who your characters are, where they are, and why?

 4. Did you move too abruptly from one scene to the next, leaving your readers going, "Huh?" Something as simple as a one-line transition can fix that.

5.  Use a foreign phrase or two? Did you check to see if you got it right?

6.  Oh wow, you used some actual history in your historical novel. But are you sure it was accurate, or is it something you took out of someone else's work of fiction? (Definitely a no-no.)

7.  You're on Chapter 20 and you can't recall if a secondary character has blue eyes or brown? And darn, what was the name of the hero's country house? Hmm - I suspect you failed to create a Character List (covered in last week's Mosaic Moments). 

8.  Perhaps you tend toward Dangling Participles? NOT a grammatical error to be ignored, as you don't want to be humiliated by your heroine's eyes running down the street or ale pouring itself into a mug.

9.  Or maybe you go on and on about a certain theme to the point it becomes tedious. Judicious editing will have you sticking a contrasting scene in there, so your plot doesn't turn stale. (No one demonstrates this better than Shakespeare who inserted comedy scenes into even his most dramatic Tragedies.)

10.  Plot. You can be forgiven a great deal as long as you are careful about explaining motivations (no matter if they require "suspended disbelief"!) Do not do what one author did - book archived before Chapter 2 - give away the entire plot in the first two pages!

11.  The Biggie. Did you make your hero and heroine likeable? If you do that, they can mess up right and left, and readers will still love them. Over the years, I've read, and edited, far too many novels where I could not like one of the main characters. (I recall one where the heroine was just plain snarky - I did not finish the book.) 

The above are only a few guidelines for self-editing. A great deal more can be found in the Editing section of Making Magic With Words. Or hunted down in the Archives of this blog.

~ * ~

 A reminder that all my Writing and Editing blogs from 2011 to 2020 can be found in my 200,000+ word book, Making Magic With Words. Unlike the Archives of this blog, all the posts on Characterization, Writing a Series, and umpteen other topics, are grouped by category and easily accessed by links in the Index. Also included are many esoteric topics from How to Turn a Word Perfect doc into a format suitable for upload to KDP and Smashwords to a list of extremely handy ASCII and Microsoft codes.


 For a link to Making Magic on Amazon, click here.

 Making Magic With Words is FREE to members of Kindle Unlimited.

 For a link to Blair's website, click here.


Thanks for stopping by,



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