Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Why I Love Editing

 For those who enjoy a good editor joke:

Cassidy in her Air Force ROTC uniform

Willow meets her first mouse (it escaped)


Many, many years ago, when all three of my children were finally in school, I made a stab at writing for the first time. And immediately discovered that unlike my mother, the very successful author of umpteen children's books, I wasn't one of those writers who could just sit down and toss off perfect sentences on the first try. [I used to type my mother's final copy, so I knew how few changes she made in her original (typed on yellow paper on a flimsy little typewriter we now look back on in horror.)]

Yet I was someone who didn't get more than the bare bones onto the page the first time around. And even though typewriters had improved to electric, including such great models as the IBM Selectric, it was still necessary to retype the entire manuscript every time I did an edit. Aargh! Needless to say, it was not until word processing popped up in the early 80s that I was able to do any serious writing.

Except life intervened—a move to Florida, the demands of three teens in high school—and suddenly it was the early 90s, I was running a costume rental business in Venice, Florida, and writing was the farthest thing from my mind.  Then life threw us a curve ball—my husband suffered a stroke that would leave him an invalid until his death ten years later. I was now a caregiver, home pretty much 24-hours a day, and owner of a computer with one of the early versions of Corel's Word Perfect. So guess what? At long last I had the time to try my hand at serious writing and the proper equipment to back me up.

I challenge anyone to be more grateful than I was for the ability to write a draft, then edit it by merely deleting or inserting text exactly where I wanted it to go. Hallelujah! My first effort ran to 140,000 words! (The Sometime Bride) But I didn't care how many times I edited that manuscript because, compared to the old way of doing things, word processing was a miracle.

But, truth is, I really enjoy editing. For me, that means sitting down with hardcopy and discovering what I have. Did I come close to getting it right, so I only need to add or delete a word here and there? Or do I have to tear the whole thing apart, and with the aid of pencils, pens, and legal pads, add whole paragraphs of insertions, invert sentences already there, cross out irrelevant details that detract from the storyline, etc., etc., etc? 

I love the challenge. Descriptions are my worst failing. I plunge ahead, completely ignoring the fact that my readers can't see into my mind and flesh out my characters looks, dialogue, and actions without my help. And then there's Set-up and Motivation—absolute "musts" to make your story comprehensible. If you've left those out, you leave your readers scowling. I also tend to rush ahead to that one-on-one scene I have in my head, "jumping the gun" without the few words of transition that ease into it. 

To me, finding these glitches in my draft is like a treasure hunt. I pounce on it, delighted when I find a way to make my work better. To identify. Clarify. Insert the changes. Reprint. Abracadabra! I've created something far better than the original.

I edit a second time, a third, a fourth. Until my work is as near perfect as I can make it. A feat that gives me satisfaction, time after time. A challenge, not a chore. (And yes, the inevitable typo or two will still get through, but that's not at all the same as missing descriptions, missing motivations, missing explanations.)

Summary.  Never groan over editing. Consider it the "fun" part of writing. The opportunity to see if your words are flowing in the right direction, if you've given your readers the information they need to enjoy your story. Editing is a privilege and a joy. Something you do not only for the satisfaction of your readers but for yourself as well.

For a whole slew of "how to" details on Editing (c. 45 articles in all), please see my Making Magic with Words. Which also includes an even longer section on Writing and a few observations in Random Thoughts.



And don't forget Gothic #10, The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle (with, I'm happy to say, a whole bunch of 5-star reviews on Amazon).

~ * ~

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

 For a link to Blair's updated Facebook Author Page

with background details on Secrets, click here.


Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)


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